End of Summer
Summer! Summertime at the beach! The summer before her freshman year offers Miranda freedom from her everyday life at home with parents. Her Great Aunt Kate is really cool. She’s met a cute guy named Scott. The ‘fly in the ointment’ is creepy Great Uncle Ted. He just seems to stare at her, and it’s beginning to get under her skin. Just when things seem to be going along well, he starts touching her. She’s not sure if it’s a mistake.
As the summer progresses, his on and off again attentions become more open. Her worries turn to fear. Who can she talk to? How can she get away? What should she do?
End of Summer is Sharon’s first young adult fiction.
Paperback, August 2015, ISBN: 978-1514889923
End of Summer: An Excerpt
As her father’s car sped quickly down the highway toward the ocean, Miranda felt as though she was a little pink peg in a car in the board game of LIFE. As the cars passed by, she imagined them filled with little pink and blue pegs, racing aggressively toward the finish line. She liked wondering about the people in those cars — imagining where each car was from and where it was going.
Miranda’s father watched the traffic intently. As they traveled from suburban Philadelphia, the traffic grew heavier and heavier through Delaware as they neared the beach towns. Miranda thought the traffic seemed to go in fits and starts as the highway through Delaware passing by small towns. Her mother told her of the more scenic Route 113 that passed by farm land, through small towns and many historic areas. She had promised Miranda a trip, meandering through Delaware, in the future. As they neared Rehoboth, several signs proclaimed “last stop before beach” whether it was a fruit stand, gas station or liquor store. Then traffic slowed to a crawl. Her father always became so snappish in heavy traffic that Miranda thought it best not to strike up a conversation. Her mother was dozing and Miranda was hot. The sun beat through the car windows causing Miranda to sweat despite the air conditioning. She shifted in her seat uncomfortably. Soon she stopped watching the traffic and was buried in thoughts about the approaching summer.
Her Aunt Kate had unexpected contacted her mother to invite Miranda to spend the summer at the beach. Her parents thought it would be a ‘golden opportunity’ for a fourteen year old. However, Miranda wasn’t all that sure; she was excited about being at the beach for the whole summer, but her Aunt Kate and Uncle Ted were practically strangers to her. She only vaguely remembered meeting them at large Thanksgiving dinners at her grandmother’s house. Actually, they were her mother’s aunt and uncle. Miranda remembered the cousins her age at the large family gatherings and not too many adults. Since her grandmother had passed away several years ago, the family had drifted apart. Miranda and her family had moved far from the family homestead of suburban Philadelphia to central Ohio and had moved back to the Philadelphia area this past year. The large family gatherings were a thing of the past.
Her mother jolted from her nap. “Are we almost there?” she inquired.
“Just about,” answered Miranda’s father. “Do you remember which street is the most direct route to their house?”
“If we go South on Atlantic Avenue, I think we’ll find their street,” said her mother. “The house is surrounded by some scrub pine. I haven’t been here in years and years,” she continued, “Aunt Kate and Uncle Ted used to have us down for a week or so each summer when I was growing up. Once a week, there used to be a band playing music at the bandstand. You’ll have to see if they still have those concerts, Randa,” she concluded, glancing back at her daughter.
Miranda mumbled an affirmative sound. Actually, she had heard of some of her mother’s antics with her cousins. Her father had often teased her mother about her own version of “Beach Blanket Bingo” in her teenage years. Miranda also knew her mother loved and respected Aunt Kate. Perhaps it wouldn’t be too bad, Miranda though, though she wouldn’t have any friends or cousins to join her. Miranda could smell the salt in the air now and couldn’t help but get excited. Her niggling doubts about the summer were erased for the moment and she giggled when she imagined all those little pink and blue pegs in the cars racing madly for the finish line — the Atlantic Ocean.
“Everyone look for Atlantic Avenue,” her father ordered as he turned onto the main street into town which was filled with cars and people. Miranda’s attention came back to the present. Her father was impatient to get around the people, crossing the street at various angles, and the cars awaiting parking spaces. They soon turned onto Atlantic Avenue, and after a few blocks the summer tourist dwellings began to change to residential type homes. Aunt Kate and Uncle Ted’s house seemed to hover on the brink of this border. Its two stories of white clapboard nestled in scrub pine with a screened-in, wrap-around front porch looked cool and inviting.
Miranda stretched, yawned, and sniffed the ocean breeze as she stepped from the car. When the front door opened a tiny woman came out and practically hopped down the steps to greet them. A flurry of hugging and kissing followed.
Miranda glanced up. She saw Uncle Ted standing on the porch. His pipe was clenched in his mouth and his hands were rooted in his pockets, his expression dour. He did not come down the steps to greet them, but just stood, nodding his head in greeting.
Once the car was unpacked and their suitcases placed in the appropriate rooms, Aunt Kate called them all out to the side porch. There she had a summer feast prepared for them; chicken barbecuing on the grill, tossed salad, potato salad, rolls and fresh strawberries.
During the meal, conversation seemed to flow around Miranda. She paid little attention to Aunt Kate and her mother, who were reminiscing bygone days when her mother used to visit in summers, years ago. Her father laughed at the many stories and was surprised at what a hoyden his wife had been.
Miranda did listen to one story about her mother and cousins sneaking out of the house at night to roam the boardwalk.
“I hope I’m not giving you any ideas, Randa,” her mother said smiling at her.
“It’s always good to store little bits of knowledge away for a rainy day,” Miranda laughed, teasing her mother. “At least, that’s been your advice forever.”
“Uh, oh!” her mother teased back.
Later they moved from the picnic table to the other half of the porch where everyone settled into rocking chairs, gliders or lounge chairs. The nostalgic stories continued. Miranda half listened to the stories, and a little bored, texted a friend in Ohio. No response. She began to play a game on her phone. She felt sleepy. She leaned against her mother and started to doze. Her mother shook her gently a bit later.
“We’re going for a walk on the boardwalk and the beach,” her mother’s voice broke through her sleepy haze. “Do you want to come?”
Miranda shook her head no, yawned again, and stumbled into the house and up the stairs. She heard Aunt Kate’s voice drifting up to her, “Keep your door open to catch some of the breeze,” came the advice. Miranda was so sleepy she took little notice of the room, fished in her suitcase for her nightgown and toothbrush. Once in bed, the talk and laughter of her parents and Aunt Kate drifted away from her down the street. She began to doze again, dreamily wondering how the summer would be.
Sometime later, Miranda awoke suddenly. Her spine tingled. At first, she didn’t know where she was. She relaxed for a moment when she remembered she was Aunt Kate and Uncle Ted’s house, but tensed when she heard a sound from the doorway. It was Uncle Ted! He was standing in the doorway and watching her. He stood a few minutes, turned and left.
She wondered why he had stood there, watching her, deciding finally that he must have been checking to see if she was all right and asleep. Lying very still and wide awake, Miranda’s body jerked suddenly when she heard voices through an open window. She lay tense until she realized that the voices belonged to her mother, father and Aunt Kate, who eventually situated themselves on the porch below. She slowly relaxed, lulled by the familiar sound of her parents’ voices and fell into a dreamless sleep.
The next morning, she awoke with the sunlight streaming into the room and into her eyes. Miranda sat up thinking that it must be mid-morning. When she checked her watch, it read six. In her mind she knew it was summer, but her body did not. It was still on school time. She was wide awake.
Miranda looked around the room which was cheerful and bright. The wallpaper was wide stripes of sunny yellow divided by a blue striped floral pattern. Bright blue linen curtains moved gently with the morning breeze and the room seemed to glow in the early morning sunshine.
Miranda got up, dressed, and crept downstairs. She paused upon hearing voices as she reached the bottom of the steps. Then walking into the living room, she found Aunt Kate intently watching a movie.
“Coffee’s on,” she said as she glanced up at Miranda. “There’s a kettle to make tea or there’s juice in the refrigerator. Help yourself.”
Miranda poked about the kitchen until she found glasses and poured herself a glass of juice. Then she went back to the living room and curled up in an overstuffed chair. As she viewed the movie, Miranda realized it was one she had already seen.
“I’ve always been an early riser,” Aunt Kate explained, “and this is my best time to watch these. My favorites are the old classic movies. You know, those romantic ones with Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn,” she said with a little sigh. “Now Ted,” Aunt Kate continued, “is a war movie buff. You can’t tear him away from those.” Aunt Kate abruptly changed the subject, “Did you sleep well?”
“Pretty well,” Miranda said, “for being in a new place.”
“It’s the sea air,” Aunt Kate said matter-of-factly. “Ah, here’s the juicy part,” and she turned back to the movie. As the movie ended, Miranda’s mother came down the stairs looking sleepy and a bit rumpled.
“I thought you might be up,” she said to Miranda. “You’ll find that Miranda is an early rise, Kate,” she added to her aunt.
Miranda’s mother got a cup of coffee and sat in the chair next to Miranda. “Are you still a movie fanatic, Kate?” Miranda’s mother asked.
“Oh, yes!” Aunt Kate replied enthusiastically. “I love these cable movie channels. Give me a cup of coffee and a movie and I’m happy as a clam.”
The television became a low buzz in the background as they talked about the summer, the beach, and family gossip. Within the next hour, Miranda’s father came down. When all had showered and dressed, they went on a tour of the haunts of Miranda’s mother’s childhood.
Miranda enjoyed the town with the hordes of summer inhabitants. Miranda’s mother insisted on buying fudge, caramel corn, and ice cream from all the places she remembered, saying each was the best ever made, and necessary to eat for old times’ sake. Her father looked amused at his wife and teased her by threatening to take her on a culinary tour of his childhood haunts.
By the time they reached a Chinese restaurant on the outskirts of town, Miranda was sure she could not eat another thing, but found her appetite returning as delicious aromas floated from the restaurant’s kitchen doors. For the second night Miranda felt sleepy and lethargic and vowed to herself that this eating spree would have to end. Back at the house, everyone settled on the porch again to chat over the distant roar of the ocean and the muffled sounds from the boardwalk. Miranda tried to keep up with the conversation, but found herself lulled by the distant crash of the ocean waves and boardwalk. Nearly asleep on her feet once again, she excused herself, said good night, and went to bed.
When her parents drove out of sight the next morning, Miranda realized she was on her own. Freedom! It was exciting and a little scary. Miranda went to the kitchen to help Aunt Kate with the breakfast dishes.
“Oh, honey, don’t worry yourself with that,” Aunt Kate said, when she found Miranda stacking dishes in the sink. “You go on down to the beach and enjoy yourself today. You can help me out later on. These dishes won’t take me more than a minute to wash up.”
“Well, okay,” Miranda replied, as she hesitated by the kitchen door, “If you’re sure.”
Aunt Kate nodded her head. Miranda went upstairs and put on her swimsuit and stood in front of the mirror to french braid her hair. It was long enough to braid and it would keep it out of the way. Before she left on this vacation, one of her friends had tried to talk her into highlighting her hair. Miranda had been afraid it would turn green or something weird in the sun and salt water. She declined the offer. She was hoping the sun would bring out some soft, natural highlights. Miranda looked in the mirror. She wasn’t ravishing, just normal. Miranda grabbed a book she wanted to read, the sunglasses, lotion and towel and went to explore the beach.
The crowd had already become a throng at ten in the morning. Miranda watched people carrying umbrellas, boogie boards, and a sundry assortment of other objects onto the sand. She moved fairly close to the water to claim a small portion of the beach, and settled in.
The sun was hot. Miranda could not concentrate on her book at all as the sun rose higher in the sky. She glanced about at the other sunbathers. Several little children were building sand castles. A young mother was trying desperately to have her baby enjoy the ocean by repeatedly dipping the child’s bare feet into the edge of the breakers. The baby cried and cried. The lifeguard blew his whistle sharply and Miranda noticed him waving some swimmers closer to the sand.
Miranda abandoned her towel and book and began to wander towards the water. She gasped as the first cold wave washed over her feet. The contrast of the hot sun beating down and the cold water was a surprise. She quickly became used to it and soon took pleasure in the contrast. Miranda wandered aimlessly through the breakers, being careful not to trip over small children rushing to and from the waves. She wasn’t really looking when a body came flying at her, trying to catch a Frisbee. Before she could move away, she found herself spluttering seawater while breakers washed over her.
“Hey, I’m sorry,” a voice spoke to her above the waves.
She pushed some stray hair out of her eyes and looked up.
“Are you all right?” the voice inquired.
“Yes,” answered Miranda, “I’m okay.”
When she stood up, she noticed that the voice belonged to a boy, just a bit older than she. A fairly tall boy, well-tanned, with tightly curled brown hair and brown eyes that actually looked concerned.
“I just wasn’t expecting a surprise initiation to the ocean,” Miranda said.
They both laughed and he turned back to his Frisbee game. Miranda decided that her soaking was enough ocean for one day and went back to collect her things and go to her new, summer home.
I would recommend this book!
Summertime away from Mom and Dad at the beach with your Aunt and Uncle. What could go wrong? Miranda enjoys life at the beach, having a boyfriend, and a job, but there is a problem with her Uncle. This is a helpful book about a difficult topic. Author Sharon Brubaker has brought to light a topic most young girls do not hear about till it happens to them. I would recommend this book to readers in the sixth grade and up.
I thought the book was very good!
The subject matter would be wonderful for sixth through eight grades to read. Wish the middle schools would put this on their reading list.
It is a good balance of discoveries, both frightening and joyful!
This book presents an enjoyable picture of summer life at the Delaware beach, along with a sensitive handling of a difficult subject. Sharon Brubaker is skillful in her characterization of a young teenager faced with a menacing situation. It is a good balance of discoveries, both frightening and joyful, made by a girl away from the shelter of her family for the first time.
The book is a quick read and a great book to start discussions about this important topic.
End of Summer by Sharon Brubaker tells the enticing story of a teenage girl who spends her summer with an aunt and uncle at Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. She finds her first love and her first job, but, she also encounters something more. Something fearful and uncomfortable. Brubaker delicately addresses a topic that’s not easy to discuss: sexual abuse by a family member. The book is a quick read and a great book to start discussions about this important topic.