Abbott, Tony. Summer Of Owen Todd. Macmillan/Farrar Strauss 2017 217p $17.99 ISBN 978-0-374-30550-5 elem/ms Realistic Fiction VG-BN
Owen and Sean have been best friends forever and are looking forward to the end of their sixth-grade year and a summer of freedom. But Sean’s mother hires a twenty-something-year-old EMT and church friend named Paul to be Sean’s baby-sitter for the summer because Sean is a diabetic. When Sean confides in Owen that Paul has been doing things to him that just don’t feel right and are sexual in nature, he makes Owen promise not to tell another soul.
This well-written novel describes the abuse of an adolescent by an adult. While the plot is unsettling and includes painful themes, it is handled in a sensitive and delicate manner. While the scenes are not at all graphic, they are disturbing.
Despite the difficult content of the novel, Tony Abbott has interwoven the themes of friendship, the beautiful Cape Cod setting, family, and friends throughout it. Additionally, the story is told from the perspective of the friend and not the victim, and (spoiler alert), a true friend doing the right thing as a true friend should. The pain and fear that Owen experiences are also convincingly described from the point of view of a child that age.
Responsibly, Abbott has also supplied resources for readers experiencing abuse or those who may know someone in that situation. He advises adolescents with questions to seek advice from parents and counselors as well as other recommended resources. However, this information is provided in the author’s note, and maybe it would have been better if it had been included directly at the end of the story.
The novel is recommended for any upper-elementary or middle-school library. It describes the unfortunate abuse of a child in an empathetic manner, and is a story that demands discussion.
Summary: Owen and Sean have been best friends forever, and when Sean tells Owen, and no one else, what his baby-sitter is doing to him, he makes Owen promise not to tell anyone else. The baby-sitter is a twenty-something-year-old hired by his mother because Sean is a diabetic.
Child abuse - Fiction --Virginia McGarvey