The Summer of Owen Todd by Tony Abbott (review)
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Reviewed by
Abbott, Tony The Summer of Owen Todd. Farrar, 2017 [224p]
Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-374-30550-5 $16.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-374-30552-9 $9.99
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 5-7

School is out in Cape Cod and eleven-year-old Owen could not be more excited to spend his summer go-karting, playing baseball, and hanging out with his best friend, Sean. Then Sean’s single mother lands a much-needed job in a nearby town and, to the boys’ chagrin, hires a babysitter, Paul, to look after Sean. When Sean begins telling Owen about things Paul secretly makes him do—acts that make Owen’s skin crawl and his stomach turn—Owen knows he cannot remain silent; when Sean tells him that he will kill himself if Owen tells anyone what he’s shared, Owen finds himself forced to make one of the toughest decisions of his life. This heartbreaking book does not sugarcoat the details or trauma of sexual assault by a trusted adult, including subsequent distribution of images of Sean on the internet. Through Owen, readers learn what it means to be a friend when choosing between honoring a friend’s wishes and doing what is truly in the friend’s best interest. While the story ends with the two boys estranged—both reeling in different ways from Owen’s decision to tell his parents—an author’s note urges readers to be advocates for themselves and their friends and implores them to remember that, if they ever suspect abuse, to tell an adult as it is “better to lose a friend than a life.” [End Page 106]

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