THE AUTHOR: Jacquelyn Eubanks
This book, written by a very talented 14-year-old young lady, is a wonderful middle grades book that does not have any vampires in it, but instead has a story full of summer fun and real life adventures. It is about relationships and how people treat each other.
Our main character is likewise a 14-year-old girl named Charlotte, but who is called “Charley.” She is not a “girlie-girl” because she prefers to play baseball rather than wear make-up and dresses. Her favorite baseball team is the New York Yankees. When her grandfather was young, he played third base for the Yankees, and third base just happens to be her favorite position too.
Her family’s religion is very important to her, but she soon finds that people are not always nice, even in church. She attends a private school where her tomboy status doesn’t allow her to fit in with the popular girls, and she suffers the consequences of that with some mean treatment by “The Pretty Posse.”
Her love of baseball results in her best friends being a group of boys who love to play the game. They bring her into their group as an equal. You will have to read to see what happens as she prepares to turn 15, and what differences start to matter in the relationships between her and the boys.
This is an extremely beautiful and innocent book, and would be a great read for an adolescent girl or a girl who loves baseball and may be suffering similar treatment by her peers.
Charley learns early in the book that her family will soon have to move from Valia Springs, Georgia, a 1950s fictional town. Could it be possible that you will read about a first kiss that happens somewhere in Valia Springs? Or does Charley have to move away before any such thing happens?
Frankie, one of her guy friends, heads up the idea to make Charley’s last summer be the best that it can possibly be. So each of the boys commits and signs up to have his own day alone with Charley, where each one entertains and makes fun memories with her so that she can carry the memories with her to her new home.
Jacqueline writes so descriptively, and the structure of her story is so well done, that you will believe you are reading the work of a much older author. She is obviously a natural writer, although I’m sure that instruction from many great teachers and much effort on her part are also involved. In fact, “The Last Summer” is the first book in a four-part series. Her forthcoming books are titled “The Last Time,” “The Last Chance” and the “The Last Doubt.”
You can visit Jacqueline and learn more about her at her website, www.JacquelynEubanks.com. And she reminds us on the last page of the book to be sure to go to Facebook and “like” her “The Last Summer” page. After reading her book, I’m sure you will most happily do so.
This book will make you run the gamut of emotions. I found myself very angry at times, and then crying at the end. This story is a joy because of the beautiful style in which Jacqueline tells it.
She attributes watching the movie “The Sandlot” as her inspiration for the book. In the acknowledgements at the back of the book, Jacqueline thanks many people for reading the original manuscript before the book was actually published. Your teenagers may be thrilled to hear that the “awe-inspiring,” according to Jacqueline, musician/future-Taylor-Swift-like-talent Emma Malik was one of her readers. I’m sure that this was not only a thrill for Jacqueline, but was also greatly enjoyed by Emma, and will be enjoyed by teenagers everywhere.
I had the privilege of speaking with Jacqueline and her mother on the phone, and she is a darling girl. She told me that she wanted to write a story about normal people that didn’t include vampires popping up everywhere. However, the Greasers, teenage thugs from the ’50s, do appear and cause Charley a great deal of upset and problems. They cause conflict, and you will inevitably realize that you are wincing at the prospects of what could happen.
I recommend this book highly as it has a great moral message and is just a lovely story of innocence. This book models how to overcome adversity with a positive attitude, and how to deal with difficult life situations.
I personally can’t wait for her next book. I am excited to see what happens to Charley as she grows up and moves to her new home. I do not usually give such a high rating to a middle grades story, but this one is superbly done and deserves it. I therefore pitch Jacqueline and her team “4 tiaras” for “The Last Summer,” and will anxiously wait to see how she develops her characters and plot in her forthcoming books.
I believe that this would make an excellent classroom read, and I encourage teachers to read it to their students. It deals with many issues that pre-teens and teenagers have to solve for themselves and to live with every day. The events here could really take place, and may remind parents of the issues their middle graders face that some parents may have forgotten. So I recommend that parents read this along with their children, and enjoy excellent opportunities to discuss real-life issues.
So, Jacky, break a leg on the rest of this series! I know that we’ll be reading a lot more of your work in the future, and I cannot wait!
Blessings and “Play ball, ya’ll!”
Buice, a Carrollton resident, writes a weekly book review for the Times-Georgian. anitabook.com.