When thirteen-year-old Mary Lou Finney is given the assignment to keep a summer journal, she has no idea her summer will be so eventful. First, her cousin Carl Ray comes to live with her family bringing all kinds of mystery with his silent and sad ways. Soon after, their neighbor has an unexpected heart attack. In the middle of that excitement, Mary Lou deals with her best friend having her first romance and Mary Lou encounters some unexpected romance of her own.
Through the voice of Mary Lou, Creech effectively captures the emotions and events of a interesting but archetypal tween summer. She captures the chaos of a house full of kids with a new teen caught in the middle. Also, she includes some profound life lessons about family, friends, and growing up.