Title: The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones
Author: Daven McQueen
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Published On: June 16, 2020
Publisher: Wattpad Books
It’s the summer of 1955. For Ethan Harper, a biracial kid raised mostly by his white father, race has always been a distant conversation. When he’s sent to spend the summer with his aunt and uncle in small-town Alabama, his Blackness is suddenly front and center, and no one is shy about making it known he’s not welcome there. Except for Juniper Jones. The town’s resident oddball and free spirit, she’s everything the townspeople aren’t―open, kind, and full of acceptance.
Armed with two bikes and an unlimited supply of root beer floats, Ethan and Juniper set out to find their place in a town that’s bent on rejecting them. As Ethan is confronted for the first time by what it means to be Black in America, Juniper tries to help him see the beauty in even the ugliest reality, and that even the darkest days can give rise to an invincible summer.
Daven McQueen’s Juniper Jones is a character for all ages in this sweet coming of age story set in 1950s Alabama.
I’m pretty sure I’ll never forget The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones. I’m so impressed by this powerful little novel, and I think everyone should read it. It’s hard to read at times, but an important stepping stone as we grow and learn about the world we live in and the kind of people we want to be.
“Under the malt shop lights she was bursting with color, too bright for this little room and, Ethan thought, for this whole town. He wondered, as he had since meeting her, how she’d managed to turn out so different from everyone else he’d met in Ellison, and why, of all people, she saw a friend in him.”Daven McQueen, The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones
I found myself smiling with Ethan and Juniper and their summer adventures, but also growing anxious with each page I turned, knowing that things wouldn’t always be easy for these two best friends. While it’s a sweet story about friendship, at its core it’s about racism, how harmful it is to ignore it, and how important it is to stand up against it.
Daven McQueen does a wonderful job placing the reader inside Ethan’s mind. We feel what he feels. His confusion and anger at being left in a strange town by his father, his happiness at meeting Juniper, his fear when people are unkind. I think The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones could be a good introduction for young readers to some of the history of racism, and the harm and pain it’s caused and continues to cause. Seeing the world through someone else’s eyes is the best way to change our viewpoints.
“Jealousy, he realized, sinking back onto his bed. Of Aunt Cara and Uncle Robert’s child, who would grow up learning about race but could just as easily not. Their child would have no moment of rude awakening, of looking around a crowd of people and not seeing a single face that looked like his own. He would never look in the mirror and feel his whiteness as a terrible shame.”Daven McQueen, The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones
I only wish we would have gotten more of Juniper’s backstory, but it didn’t affect my love for these characters. I’m so happy to have discovered this unforgettable book, and I can’t wait to read more from such a promising author.
Thank you to the publisher, Wattpad Books, for providing me with an advance copy.
Rating: (4.5 / 5)
About the Author
A Song For A Book
On Bookstagram I created a hashtag for when I include a song that reminds me of the book I’m sharing, #ASongForABook, I thought I’d make it a regular feature on my reviews, too.
Ethan takes his record player and beloved records with him to his aunt and uncle’s house for the summer. He spends hours listening to them, his only source of friendship before Juniper befriends him. He mentions listening to Louis Armstrong, which had me singing “What a Wonderful World.” While the world may not seem so wonderful to Ethan, he still manages to see the good around him—with some help from Juniper.
Have you read The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones? Did you add it to your tbr? Let me know in the comments!