By Sally Derby
Charlesbridge, 2010. 191 pgs. Fiction.
Kyle's father has left their family to do some things he has always wanted to do, to "find himself." Angry and hurt as he is, Kyle finds solace in his family's annual trip to his Gram's cottage at the lake. But Gram has died, and Kyle's mom needs to sell the lake house because she can't afford the upkeep. Kyle alternates between happiness in the pleasures of the lake and bitterness at knowing this will be his last summer there. He takes a job rowing a neighbor out to fish, trying to make enough money to pay the cottage taxes and save it, but what he learns during the summer from his sisters, his brother Josh, his mother, and his neighbor Tom is worth more than the five dollars a morning he gets for rowing the lake. Kyle's Island is a gentle book, maybe too slow-moving for lots of kids, but rich with experience and comfort for children of divorce or abandonment, for anyone who needs a reminder not to judge others by appearance. Set in the 1970s, the story disconcerts a bit with the mother's casual smoking. Also, it's difficult to imagine anything more compelling to the father than his fine little family. Still, the bittersweet ending gives all the family some of what they want, and enough to make the future hopeful with a significant possibility of happiness.