Stained Glass Summer by Mindy Hardwick
Publisher: Musa Publishing
Length: Short Story (149 Pages)
Age Recommendation: 12+
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Jasmine
Twelve-year-old Jasmine adores her photographer Father and wants to be an artist just like him. But when Dad abandons the family, Jasmine is sent to spend the summer with her Uncle on a Pacific Northwest Island. Soon, Jasmine is learning stained glass from island glass artist, Opal, mentoring five-year-old Sammy, and thinking she might just be developing a crush on Island boy, Cole. But, can Jasmine escape the shadow of her artistic Father to discover her own path as a glass artist?
Have you ever had a parent you tried so hard to impress, only to always seem to fall short of your goal?
Jasmine is a young girl, trying desperately to emulate her father. She wants his approval and his attention very badly but seems never able to achieve either. Her father is a very self-absorbed photographer who seems to think everyone's world should revolve around him. When he fails, once again, to keep a promise, Jasmine comes home to find him gone without a word. Not able to face spending the summer in the house without her father, she convinces her mother to send her to live with an uncle for the summer on an island off the coast of Washington. Feeling like everything would go back to “normal” if she could just win his approval, she enters a contest on the island making stained glass.
The author did a great job of making this story relatable, not only to children dealing with the emotions of their parents splitting up, but also to anyone that has dealt with feelings of inadequacy. Jasmine comes across loud and clear as a pre-teen on the brink of discovering all the turbulence that comes with the teen years.
As Jasmine deals with her feelings concerning her father, she is also faced with liking a boy for the first time – and having him like her back. She has this idea that if she can just repeat the same set of circumstances she witnessed with an older girl and her boyfriend, she can win the heart of the boy she likes. This made me laugh because it's so typical of young girls. I could remember feeling this way at one time, and it was a memory I would never have thought of if this book hadn't triggered it. The idea that if you could just make “this one thing” happen is a theme throughout the book and, to me, a symbol of the loss of some of her innocence of youth.
The secondary characters are quirky, with their own histories. You realize everybody is dealing with something, even if you don't know what it is. The little girl, Sammy, is a great character. She makes Jasmine focus on something other than her own thoughts and feelings whether she wants to or not and by the end, Jasmine realizes that Sammy is a kindred soul.
Though the pace of the book is a little slow and, I think, in danger of losing the attention of readers in the target age range here and there, it's a great coming of age story. This is one of those stories that, by the end, I was left wondering what happened to them later, as though they were real people. When that happens, you know you've just read something good. This is definitely worth checking out, especially if you have young children dealing with these issues. It's a good book to help them realize there are situations beyond their control and aren't usually their fault. And it may even inspire an interest in art!