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The Mixed-Up Summer of Lily McClean    by Lindsay Littleson order for
Mixed-Up Summer of Lily McClean
by Lindsay Littleson
Order:  USA  Can
Floris Books, 2015 (2015)
Softcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Lyn Seippel

Eleven-year-old Lily McClean sometimes secretly hides in the cupboard. It's not like she's Harry Potter, she just likes her own space and space is hard to find in her family's too small council house.

In this story told in first person, Lily deals with life and her family with a mixture of humor and often exasperation. She shares a small bedroom with her two smelly, squabbling brothers, Hudson and Bronx, ages six and seven. She has a baby sister, Summer, and an older sister, Jenna, who used to be a perfectly nice person before going off the rails when she turned fifteen. Her mum works hard to keep them afloat. Gran, her dad's mum, helps out by babysitting.

The story begins with Lily hiding in the cupboard while her older sister Jenna throws a tantrum. Lily and Jenna normally go on a summer holiday to the small Scottish Isle of Cumbrae with their gran. They spend a fun week there in a caravan. Jenna usually enjoys going, but this year she can't believe her mother is being so unfair as to expect her to spend a week on a desert island. The island is only a ten minute ferry ride from the mainland and Millport is a perfectly nice small town.

Finally it's decided that only Lily will go and she'll be missing the last week in term because that's when her gran scheduled the caravan. She's a little bummed because that will be her final week of primary school before going on to secondary school. Still, it'll be worth it to get away from her family and the ghostly voice haunting her.

The voice is a recent problem. Even Lily's cupboard haven, her get-away-from-it-all place, isn't safe. She first heard the whispery voice there and almost gave away her hide-out scrambling to get out. Maybe she's going insane. If so, there's no way she's telling her mum who is already feeling guilty enough for bringing her alcoholic stepdad into their lives. They're divorced now, but the entire family is suffering from PTSD.

This touchingly funny story about family and friendship is the first novel for primary school teacher, Lindsay Littleson. The novel won the Kelpies Prize for first children's novel. Littleson lives in Renfrewshire, Scotland. I'm looking forward to her next book.

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