Eleven year-old Allie Jo lives with her mother and father at The Meriwether, a Florida hotel that they help manage. She doesn’t have many friends, and the mean girls at school call her a “hotel rat”. The summer of 1987 changes things for Allie Jo, though – she meets Chase, a fourteen year-old guest traveling with his journalist dad and who’s working through some issues of his own, and they both meet Tara, a mysterious girl who appears one day and says she’s run away. As Allie Jo and Chase learn more about Tara, they’re split as to what they believe – is she a troubled teen, or is her fantastic story true?
A fantasy substory taking place within a realistic fiction plot, The Summer of Moonlight Secrets is great fun with a few big issues going on – there is some minor bullying, the issue of an absentee mom, and a runaway whose stories all intertwine here. Ms. Haworth’s story is evenly paced with well-developed characters. Chapters are narrated in each of the three main characters’ voices, so the reader truly gets a glimpse into each character’s mind and point of view in addition to how each perceives the others. The big reveal is also a pleasant surprise, as Ms. Haworth almost leads to reader to one conclusion to reveal another, more interesting one. Overall, an enjoyable read about friendship that will make readers feel good when they’re done – and leave them with some interesting things to consider.
Danette Haworth’s website offers information about all of her books, her biography, and contact information.