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Island Girl: Friends for a Season    by Sandra Byrd order for
Island Girl
by Sandra Byrd
Order:  USA  Can
Bethany, 2005 (2005)
* * *   Reviewed by Melissa Parcel

Thirteen-year-old Meg likes spending summers with her grandparents on Sauvie Island, Oregon. She enjoys being on their berry farm, far from her busy life in Seattle. This summer promises to be the most interesting yet, because Meg has major changes ahead. Her mom and stepdad are expecting a baby, and Meg's dad is about to come to a decision about his military career.

Meg knows that, at the end of the summer, she needs to decide whether to live with her mom, or move to Oregon and help her dad take over the farm. When she arrives at her grandparents', Meg finds changes. Her grandfather has hired an overseer for the farm. The man comes from Mexico and his family is here for the summer, including his thirteen-year-old daughter Tia. Everyone expects Meg and Tia to become fast friends, but their cultural differences seem to get in the way at every turn. Can the girls forge an understanding, if only for the summer?

This is the first book in a great new series, Friends for a Season, in which girls from different backgrounds find common ground. Meg truly has a dilemma about where to live. Her decision is one that more and more teens need to make these days, so it's easy to relate to the difficulty she has in choosing. Tia is a fascinating character who brings an interesting dimension to the story. Readers will learn about things like a quincanera from Tina, and about running from Meg.

A spiritual element comes into the story, because Meg is also trying to discover where she fits in with God. She studies Bible verses, dealing with being a vine and with the fruits of the spirit. Many of her experiences relate her faith journey to the farm and growing fruit. The book is not preachy, but presents a teen's point-of-view in learning about God. Island Girl is a shining beginnning to this new series, and I look forward to reading more of these touching stories.

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