It doesn’t take long for Freia’s plans for the perfect summer to go off the rails. First her mum comes home with terrible news, her younger brother Ziggy is being obnoxious, her interfering Grandmother comes to stay, she fights with her friends and then Dan has to leave town to visit his mother. Freia’s summer has gone from perfect to disastrous in a matter of days.
Freia Lockhart’s Summer of Awful is the sequel to Aimee Said’s 2012 teen novel Finding Freia Lockhart. While there are lingering issues with the girls who made Freia’s life difficult in the first novel, Summer of Awful focuses primarily on Freia’s new friendships, her relationship with boyfriend Dan and issues at home, particularly the confronting and upsetting news that Freia’s mother has been diagnosed with breast cancer and needs to undergo surgery immediately after Christmas.
Aimee Said balances the challenges of dealing with Freia’s mother’s cancer diagnosis and treatment with lively and often humorous dialogue that stops the novel becoming too heavy and depressing. Freia’s nosy grandmother and her annoying parrot Rocky offer some great comic relief.
I think that the novel deals with the impact of breast cancer on Freia’s family thoughtfully and realistically, offering readers some insight into the complicated emotions stirred by the diagnosis and treatment of a family member with cancer. I particularly appreciated the way the author dealt with the flow on effect of the emotional turmoil at home with Freia’s other relationships.
The novel ends with most issues resolved, however I can see potential for exploring Ziggy’s ongoing anger and behaviour problems as well as Freia’s developing friendships and romance should the author choose to continue the series.
Title: Freia Lockhart's Summer of Awful
Author: Aimee Said
Publisher: Walker Books, $16.95 RRP
Publication Date: 1 February 2013
For ages: 12+ years
Type: Young adult fiction