HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: My Mixed-Up Berry Blue Summer
Author: Jennifer Gennari
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2012
Language level: 2 (hard to say—nothing obscene or vulgar but uses terms related to a topic that is just not appropriate for children)
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Said to be for ages 9 and up, but I cannot recommend it for any children
Rating: 0 stars (NOT RECOMMENDED)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Gennari, Jennifer. My Mixed-Up Berry Blue Summer (published in 2012 by Harcourt Mifflin Books for Children, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 215 S. Park Ave., New York City, NY 10003). Twelve-year-old June Farrell lives on Lake Champlain in Vermont where her mother, M. J. Farrell, operates the Stillwater Marina store. Her best friend Luke, whose mother had left, lives with his sculptor dad Joe on an island offshore. June likes to bake and plans to enter a pie in hopes of winning a blue ribbon at the Champlain Valley Fair. However, a situation arises which stands in June’s way of submitting a pie for the contest and also threatens her mother’s business.
Unfortunately, the “situation” is the fact that June’s other “parent-to-be” is Eva Lewis, another woman who is going to marry M. J. Several of June’s friends use such terms as “lezzie” and “freak.” June’s mother chose to have her without a husband, and all June knows about her “unknowable dad” is that he was a 26-year-old “sperm donor” from New York. Common topics of discussion are “gay rights” and “homophobia.” A number of times it is said that some folks “hate gay people.” Aside from the general theme itself, is there really anyone out there who thinks that subjects like these are age-appropriate for children’s books? Of course, June is very conflicted as the problems arise, but, with the help of Luke and the local librarian Ms. Flynn, she reconciles herself to her mom’s relationship with Eva and comes to appreciate her new “family.”
There are certain aspects of this story that are cute, and some might see a lesson about not mistreating and being unkind to people with whom one disagrees, but the whole plot turns on “a backlash against Vermont’s civil union law.” The conclusion which the author apparently wants us to draw is, “If it only weren’t for those mean-spirited, bigoted, homophobic Christians, this world would be an idyllic place in which to live.” Therefore, the book is basically a puff-piece of pro-homosexual propaganda aimed at children in an attempt to convince them that this “alternate lifestyle” is just as normal and acceptable as any other, and as such I’m sorry but I simply cannot recommend it.