Review: The Great Good Summer by Liz Garton Scalon

the great good summer by liz garton scalon

Ivy and Paul hatch a secret plan to find Ivy’s missing mom and say good-bye to the space shuttle in this evocative, heartfelt novel reminiscent of Each Little Bird that Sings and Because of Winn-Dixie.

Ivy Green’s mama has gone off with a charismatic preacher called Hallelujah Dave to The Great Good Bible Church of Panhandle Florida. At least that’s where Ivy and her dad think Mama is. But since the church has no website or phone number and Mama left no forwarding address, Ivy’s not entirely sure. She does know she’s missing Mama. And she’s starting to get just a little worried about her, too.

Paul Dobbs, one of Ivy’s schoolmates, is also having a crummy summer. Paul has always wanted to be an astronaut, and now that NASA’s space shuttle program has been scrapped, it looks like his dream will never get off the ground.

Although Ivy and Paul are an unlikely pair, it turns out they are the perfect allies for a runaway road trip to Florida to look for Mama, to kiss the Space Shuttle good-bye, and maybe, just maybe, regain their faith in the things in life that are most important.

Description taken from Goodreads.


The problem with THE GREAT GOOD SUMMER is that it just felt fake to me.

BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE is a happy novel with sad undertones. THE GREAT GOOD SUMMER is a generally sad book with happy undertones.

Granted, this book does have some good parts, but even those can be debated, specifically the skepticism and the wondering about science and religion that Paul and Ivy do. Some parents may not like their kids reading about themes like this, although personally I thought it was well-handled. Parents may want to read the book before their child does in that case.

But my main point is that some authors write like they’re writing for children, and some authors write like they’re writing for children’s book award panels. I am not saying that Scalon writes like this, but I am saying that that’s how I read her book. Nothing felt genuine to me, and I never felt truly connected to the characters. In BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE, I was able to get lost in the world and the characters. In this book, I kept on waiting for an epiphany that never came.

All in all, I can’t say I would recommend this book. THE GREAT GOOD SUMMER has some cute moments, but I didn’t understand many of the plot events and in the end I wanted more. 1.5 stars.

pg count for the hardback: 224

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