It's summer vacation, and Socko and his best friend Damien are hanging around the Kludge apartments, taking care to avoid the local gang members. When Socko's great-grandfather suddenly offers to buy a house in the suburbs, Socko's mom jumps at the chance to leave the bad neighborhood. Socko hates to leave Damien behind, but they pack up their few belongings and move to Moon Ridge Estates.Nothing there is even remotely what Socko had imagined - Moon Ridge is a lonely wasteland of half-finished houses. Socko tries to make the best of a bad situation, hopping on his skateboard to explore the empty streets that are now his private domain.Constructing new lives will involve taking some risks, but in time a ragtag community begins to rally around the struggling development. With humor and heart, Adrian Fogelin weaves a timely story of loyalty, family, community, and economic hardship.
“What do you want to do tomorrow?” Damien asked.Even though it was the first day of summer vacation, Socko couldn’t come up with much. “Hang out on the roof and work on our tans?” he joked.“Genius idea! You turn red like a spotlight, then peel like a banana. And me?” Damien held out one skinny arm. “I’m naturally tan.”“True and true.” Socko was what Damien called “beyond white”, and although Damien’s mom was white, he definitely took after the black dad he’d never met. “You got any genius ideas?”“I’m working on it.” Damien loped ahead, his footfalls echoing.--pg 4, Summer on the Moon (ARC)
GUEST POST: Author Adrian FogelinWhen it comes to writing, I am what I call a “blurter.” The smallest scrap of an idea is enough to start me on the long journey known as a novel. I set off blithely, without any map at all.The scrap of an idea that became “Summer on the Moon” was given to me by a student when I made an author visit to his school. Trying to demonstrate that a story’s setting usually originates in a place the author knows, I asked for descriptions of places that the students knew well. I usually get a town. Or a house. Sometimes Disney.That day I heard about a cardboard box, the kind an appliance comes in. The student said he climbed into one he kept in the garage when he needed to be alone. It started me thinking about the importance of having a place of your own.In "Summer on the Moon" my main character Socko, and his best friend, Damien, have no such place. They live in a dangerous inner-city neighborhood. The only place that is provisionally theirs is the roof of their apartment building, which hasn't yet come to the attention of the local gang—an oversight that is corrected on the opening day of the book.Page one, school has just ended for the year. Socko and Damien celebrate by turning old math worksheets into flaming airplanes. When one hits Rapp, the leader of The Tarantulas, he storms the roof and dangles Damien over the edge to throw a scare into him. Socko hides. The boys come down off the roof shaken, and sure they are headed for a terrifying and dangerous summer. Socko feels doubly bad. He’s let his best friend down. How long can he make it up to Damien?But while the confrontation on the roof was playing out, Socko’s mother, Delia, received an offer by phone that changes everything. A grandfather she hasn’t seen since her parents divorced is about to be put in a nursing home against his will. If Delia and her son will take him in, the General (as the old man likes to be called) will buy them a house.The move means Delia’s dream of a better life is about to come true. For Socko it means escape, but at what cost? He is leaving his best friend behind along with Junebug, the teen who lives down the hall who was his babysitter, and is now the reluctant girlfriend of the gang leader. He leaves both in danger.But the new life is a little scary too. The General is cranky, and wheelchair-bound, and wears a patch over one eye. The "dream house" his mother has chosen is in a partially-built housing development. What she doesn't know is that their house is the only house that has been purchased, and that the subdivision is going bankrupt.Realizing he has moved to a wasteland, Socko quickly comes to see this place which is cratered with holes that may or may not one day become basements and populated by the skeletons of half-finished houses, as his "territory." He turns the subdivision’s empty swimming pool into his own personal skate park and walks the beams of the skeleton houses.A second kid arrives, but for Livvy the move to Moon Ridge Estates is a plunge. Livvy's father is the builder of the subdivision, the man who is losing his shirt. Livvy is used to living in a house with its own tennis court, going to private school.As I wrote the book the current recession was always on my mind and every character you meet in "Summer on the Moon" is in some way affected by the present hard times. It seemed important to put the courage and the coping skills, especially those shown by kids, into a book. How do Socko and Livvy deal with finding a homeless family camping in one of the houses? How can they help Livvy's father hang onto Moon Ridge Estates?And how does Socko help Damien and Junebug, the friends he left behind? The old life and the new weave together when, after Junebug dumps Rapp, Socko engineers an abduction that whisks Junebug out of the old neighborhood and into the new—and Rapp comes after what he sees as rightfully his.When the old man in the guard booth refuses to let him in Rapp breaks off the barrier arm with the front of a classic Trans Am he inherited from an uncle. Behind the wheel of his "chariot of fear" Rapp chases Socko and Livvy around the neighborhood. But now Rapp is in Socko's territory. Although they are on foot Socko and Livvy know their way around. The swimming pool which served Socko as a skate Park has now been filled with water. Socko tricks the gang leader into putting the car into the pool. When Rapp doesn't get out Socko realizes that things have come full circle. It is now his job to save his worst nightmare from drowning.I have never done anything as exciting as putting a car in a pool in any of my other books. But I've always portrayed kids whose families are in tight financial circumstances. Being a member of a family that struggles just to get by is the life lived by many young readers. I know because I live in a neighborhood in which this is the case. A have a small library for the local kids. I hand them stories and hear theirs. Five of my earlier books are set in a fictionalized version of my own neighborhood where many families work hard and still worry about keeping food in the house.On author visits I ask kids about the places they know and also the people. If you read "Summer on the Moon" you'll meet a lot of people I know, thinly disguised as characters. From Socko, who wears the same secondhand clothes and eats the same cheap starchy food as the kids in my neighborhood, to the General who stands in for my father's generation of World War II veterans, these are the people I know and care about.As a blurter I walk blindly through a story counting on running into the people and places I know well. They supply my raw materials. Then, in a startling leap away from the real world, I do things I can only do in fiction.Oh boy, I get to put the car in the pool!
Adrian Fogelin, the daughter of a fiction writer, grew up in a house littered with manuscript pages. It is no surprise that before long she began to write stories of her own. She is the author of seven novels for middle grade readers and one Young Adult novel. Her latest book is “Summer on the Moon,” a 2012 title.