JELLY BEAN SUMMER, by Joyce Magnin, Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky


Living on the roof to escape her crazy family works…until reality pulls Joyce back to the ground

Joyce has had it with her family (especially with UFO-sighting Elaine who loves her guinea pig more than her own sister). Her solution? Move out of the house and pitch a tent on the roof for the summer. But when she spots a boy watching her from a neighboring roof she’s stunned—and intrigued.

Brian recently lost his brother, and the two instantly bond over their messed-up families. To help Brian repair his brother’s truck, they concoct a scheme to build and sell tickets to a UFO display. Even Elaine agrees to help…until unexpected events test the limits of Joyce’s family ties.


I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

When you have 1st-person narrative and an eleven year old professing a deep inner philosophy far exceeding her years, third person should be used. This gives the reader a better perspective to read and feel the emotions instead of awkwardly having a child character appear unreal and one-dimensional. This is a common mistake many children’s book authors make, they write from an adult perspective which takes so much away from a story being told by a child.  The child doesn’t sound convincing and real because the voice of the character is too old and portrayed incorrectly.

I think this story would have worked better if the character had been thirteen or fourteen. However, the very childish antics wouldn’t have fit so well and would need to be changed.  Unfortunately, this wouldn’t work since the story seems to be written from the author’s past.

The premise of the story is great and the author’s voice is also very good.  The plot moves along nicely paced well and not jumpy.  The setting is the sixties and the author is the main character (both possessing the same name) so presumably this is an autobiography?

I think the author had a story from her childhood that she wanted to share but wasn’t sure about how to go about it.  With all this said, I still found the story enjoyable. It’s filled with a young girl’s thoughts, feelings and experiences remembered of a time when her country was engaged in a war.  There will be those who read this book that will suffer from waves of nostalgia, and find many references and prose hysterical and reminiscent of their own childhood.

This author can weave a tale of fun, laughter and silly antics using her own past experiences as a foundation to create great adventures such as Jelly Bean (the guinea pig that looks like a little cow) Summer.

I recommend this book to both middle-grade readers and especially to adults who love reading stories depicted in the sixties and seventies.

I gave this book:


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