The Mending Summer by Ali Standish

Happy, happy Monday! Ali Standish stopped by to discuss The Mending Summer's cover, Georgia, Angela, motherhood, and more. I wrote the words in purple, and Ali wrote the words in black. Thank you, Ali! 

Sarah J. Coleman’s cover illustration and Laura Mock's cover design for The Mending Summer is gorgeous, let’s start by stating the obvious! In color and style really captures the tone I was hoping to strike with this book. To me, it’s quite a bewitching cover, which is fitting because so is the wishing lake at the heart of this story. The mysterious lake has the power to grant wishes, which at first results in wonderful, fantastic adventures. But there is a darker magic at work behind all the sparkly stuff, and it’s the kind of darkness you can lose yourself in… I love how Sarah captures both the brightest possibility of the magic (that beautiful tree!) while also hinting at the dangers of the lake (the thorns in the title, the boat kept secret behind Georgia’s back). 

The Mending Summer tells the story of what happens to children when someone they love is careless with their heart. In this story, Georgia’s heart is breaking because she feels her father is choosing alcohol over her. It was important to me to represent this particular struggle, because it’s one that defined my own adolescence, and because so many children still live in households where substance abuse is slowly stealing away someone they love. But I think this book will resonate with readers who have felt rejected or betrayed by their loved ones for other reasons, too. 

When we experience that kind of trauma, I think there are two roads that open up for us. We can find comfort within ourselves and the healthy relationships in our lives and grow more resilient, or we can begin to reject ourselves as we feel others have rejected us, and begin to fracture. The Mending Summer is really about a girl who has come to that fork in the road and must decide which way this struggle will push her down.

Georgia and Angela are neither what they appear to one another to be. They are each less and more. But they are best together. And that’s about all I can say about that.  


The Ethan I Was Before, August Isle, The Climbers, Bad Bella, and How To Disappear Completely each represent a different corner of my heart, a time in my life, and a dream coming true. Now that I am a mom, I can say that books really are like children in many ways! You love each of them for what they are, though each presents unique challenges and frustrations. You take care to create them in the best way you know how, but you know that they will live their own lives once they venture out into the world. 


These books are all unique, but they were all created with love and an enduring sense of hope and resilience that I think kids need more than ever right now. 

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me how being a mom has changed writing for me! There is a sense of urgency to my writing that I didn’t have before my son entered the world. Partially, that’s because my time is much more limited now than it was before. Like so many women right now, I am balancing work with the lion’s share of the household and childcare (and let’s not forget doggy care!) duties. So when I get time to write, I feel I have to use it wisely. But also, having a baby has made concrete for me what was once abstract. I have always wanted to write books that will help children make their way through adolescence. Now I want to write books that might one day help my own son navigate the troubled world his generation is set to inherit. Becoming a mother has redoubled my commitment to wanting to inspire young readers to find their voices, embrace agency, and challenge the status quo. I write knowing one day my son will likely read my words, which makes each one feel more important than ever.


Thank you SO much for having me, Mr. Schu! And for everything you do to connect readers to books, especially now. Accessing imaginative spaces has become more important to me than ever during this time when our physical spaces are so limited and fraught, and I know the same is true for so many young readers!  

John Schu: Thank you, Ali!


Look for The Mending Summer on May 25, 2021.

HarperCollins' Description:

Some summers are just meant to break your heart.

Georgia can almost feel hers cracking a little more every day, like a clay pot left in a kiln too long. Daddy is working nights, and often the man who comes home isn’t Daddy. He’s the man Daddy turns into when he drinks—the Shadow Man.

With her father sinking deeper into alcoholism and Mama struggling to keep the family afloat, Georgia is sent to stay with her mysterious great aunt in in the country. Soon, Georgia meets Angela—a girl with secrets of her own—and together they discover a magical lake. At first, the lake offers Georgia thrilling adventures with her new friend. But as things grow worse at home, the magic threatens to spiral out of control. . . .

Award-winning author Ali Standish explores the courage it takes to piece your heart back together again when those closest to you break it.

Ali Standish, author of the critically acclaimed The Ethan I Was Before, August Isle, and Bad Bella, grew up in North Carolina and spent several years as an educator in the Washington, DC, public school system. The Ethan I Was Before received many accolades, including being named an Indie Next Pick, a Bank Street Best Book of the Year, a Carnegie Medal Longlist title, a Southern Book Prize Longlist title, and a Children’s Book Review Best Book of the Year. Ali has an MFA in children’s writing from Hollins University and a MPhil in children’s literature from the University of Cambridge.


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