Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Book Review: The Firefly Summer by Morgan Matson

Pages: 400
Genre: Middle Grade Fiction
Pub Date: May 2, 2023
Publisher: Simon & Schuster for Young Readers
Source: Library
Other Books By Author: Amy & Roger's Epic Detour,
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "The Penderwicks meets The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street in a story about a young girl who gets to know her mom’s side of the family and hunts for hidden treasure over the course of one chaotic summer. For as long as Ryanna Stuart can remember, her summers have been spent with her father and his new wife. Just the three of them, structured, planned, and quiet. But this summer is different. This summer, she’s received a letter from her grandparents—grandparents neither she nor her dad have spoken to since her mom’s death—inviting her to stay with them at an old summer camp in the Poconos. Ryanna accepts. She wants to learn about her mom. She wants to uncover the mystery of why her father hasn’t spoken to her grandparents all these years. She’s even looking forward to a quiet summer by the lake. But what she finds are relatives… so many relatives! Aunts and uncles and cousins upon cousins—a motley, rambunctious crew of kids and eccentric, unconventional adults. People who have memories of her mom from when she was Ryanna’s age, clues to her past like a treasure map. Ryanna even finds an actual, real-life treasure map! Over the course of one unforgettable summer—filled with s’mores and swimming, adventure and fun, and even a decades-old mystery to solve—Ryanna discovers a whole new side of herself and that, sometimes, the last place you expected to be is the place where you really belong."

Ryanna's mother died when she was just three years old, so the maternal side of her family has always been a mystery as they are estranged. But one day she gets an invitation from her maternal grandparents to come spend the summer at their house in the Poconos. Ryanna agrees as she is curious about her extended family and also she hopes to learn more about her mother. What she thought was going to be a quiet lakeside summer with her grandparents turned out to be so much more. It's not just her grandparents who are there; there are aunts, uncles, and cousins staying at what was once a bustling summer camp that her grandparents operated. Camp Van Camp, an idyllic getaway in the Poconos, is no longer in operation, but is in crisis. Nonetheless, Ryanna's days are filled with all the summer fun you would expect lakeside, hanging out with her cousins, treasure maps, her mom's old books, and more. One old treasure map might hold the key to keeping Camp Van Camp. Morgan Matson's middle-grade debut, The Firefly Summer, is an absolute delight of a summer novel.

Ryanna is the type of character you instantly feel for in
The Firefly Summer. She is just getting to know her grandparents and extended family, so it's a bit awkward in the beginning, especially with how she met her cousins. Slowly, she folds into the family nicely and acclimates to summer life at the lake. I loved how she got to know her mom's side of the family and the adventures with her crew of cousins. She also tries to piece together what happened between her grandparents and her dad as that is the reason why they were estranged.

One of the main problems in
The Firefly Summer is the fact that her grandfather can't find the handwritten document from his neighbor, who has since passed away, which indicates the land of Camp Van Camp goes to him. Without this document, the fate of the camp is up in the air, so clearly this is a focus for Ryanna this summer as well. It turns into a bit of an adventure involving her mom's old book, notes in the margins, and a treasure map---pure summer fun!
Matson captures summer life at the Poconos so well in
The Firefly Summer; it made me want to plan another trip back. Readers can easily tell that Matson writes from the heart about the Poconos, because all the descriptions are completely vivid and accurate. Fans of the Poconos will love this aspect of the novel; I certainly did.

Fans of the Vanderbeekers series will especially enjoy this novel as it has some similarities. In sum, Matson can do no wrong. She is such a fantastic writer and I am so glad she wrote her first middle-grade novel. I hope she continues to write more; The Firefly Summer is a novel I would have loved to pick up when I was in middle school. So, are you a fan of Morgan Matson? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.



  1. I just ordered a copy of this! I love her YA novels and now that I have a 7 year old, I'm excited she's branching put to middle grade.

    1. I think she will love it and you will too! It was adorable! Thanks for visiting, Michele!

  2. We'll be heading to the Poconos this summer, so this sounds really fun!

    1. It would be the perfect read to get you ready for a Pocono vacation! I love it there; I hope you enjoy it! Thanks for visiting, Angela.


I really appreciate your comments. Thank you!

Design by: Designer Blogs