Bat Summer


174 pages
ISBN 0-88899-352-8
DDC jC813'.54





Reviewed by Dave Jenkinson

Dave Jenkinson is a professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba and the author of the “Portraits” section of Emergency Librarian.


This unusual novel, winner of the Groundwood 20th Anniversary First
Novel for Children Contest, is not one that will immediately grab some
portions of its intended middle-school audience. However, readers
willing to persist beyond the book’s somewhat slow start can look
forward to some fascinating interaction between the two principal

Terence, 12, discovers that when summer holidays take your best friend
away, you are forced to make do with the kids who are also stuck behind.
Loneliness seems almost preferable when Terence realizes that his only
potential summer “friends” appear to be the bullying Rico and the
oddball Lucy, who last year “was in the cootie class with the
dumbheads and the problem kids.” Lucy’s strangeness is enhanced by
her daily habit of drawing Magic Marker tattoos on her face and by her
firm and publicly stated belief that she is a brown bat. Like Terence,
readers gradually come to see the hurting girl behind the facade, and
they understand when Terence declares that he too must be a bat because
he and Lucy have so much in common.

In this very different romance, Withrow explores the theme of
loneliness by showing how adolescents can be surrounded by supposedly
caring adults and still be emotionally isolated. Those who enjoy Brian
Doyle’s quirky characters and humor are first-choice readers for Bat
Summer. Recommended.


Withrow, Sarah., “Bat Summer,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 22, 2024,