A coming-of-age story of loss, adventure, violence, and redemption
Fourteen-year-old Sam Barger’s life changes forever when his father dies and his family is forced to move from a remote homestead and fishing camp to the busy city of Anchorage. Life in the big city hits Sam a little differently; suddenly he’s surrounded by cars and girls, poverty and diversity, and new places to explore. One day he and his new friends stumble upon an abandoned nightclub, and it fires up Sam’s imagination and leads him into dangers he never expected. Can he survive the wilds of Anchorage before the end of summer?
Secondhand Summer is the gripping debut novel inspired by author Dan Walker’s own life and experiences.
|Publisher:||West Margin Press|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.50(d)|
|Age Range:||8 - 12 Years|
About the Author
Dan Walker is a homesteader’s son who grew up to become a teacher and a writer. He has worked as a chef, innkeeper, merchant seaman, fisherman, and carpenter. Drawn from these varied experiences are blogs, essays, professional articles, and fiction published in magazines and literary journals such as the Journal of Geography, Alaska Magazine, and We Alaskans. Dan has more than thirty years in education and was named Teacher of the Year for Alaska in 1999. His consulting work has taken him throughout Alaska from Anchorage to Barrow and Perryville to Sitka where he works with principals, teachers, and students and is rewarded by experiencing the remote Alaska that few people get to know.
Dan Walker, Secondhand Summer Author Q&A:
Q: Are there elements of the story that relate to your own life?
A: This story is highly biographical; many of the experiences are very real. Luckily there was no knife fight, but even this does reflect life in the Anchorage I knew.
Q: What inspired you to write Secondhand Summer?
A: I wrote the draft of this book one summer after I had talked to my wife about the events I experienced when we moved to Anchorage from the homestead after my father died. Only later did I realize this was a book for middle school kids, kids I worked with for years as a teacher. In the process of developing this book with my editor, Michelle McCann, I realized how important it is to write books that boys want to read, our most reluctant readers. I also want the book to be sophisticated enough that it would engage adults.
Q: How can mentors use the book in their work with at risk kids?
A: The story is about awakening through exposure to the reality that a child’s world is very complicated.
While Sam first lived in the wilds of nature, he was really sheltered by it. In Anchorage everything changes and suddenly he is offered challenges and choices that help shape his character. He starts to realize that rules don’t control him; his conscience and sense of decency does.
Q: What will kids relate to?
I think readers will connect with the challenges Sam faces in making and choosing friends. Readers will relate to Sam’s discovery that the world is not black and white, that there are lots of gray areas. This is a story about that pubescent time when one is no longer a kid but not really a full-fledged teenager. One minute you’re playing with Legos® and the next you’re flirting with a girl. Sam is one big bundle of angstkids will relate to that.
Q: How can adults use this book with kids and what are some of the issues and life events covered in the book that librarians could use in recommending the book?
A: The book is set in 1965 making it, I guess, historical fiction. That level of separation has a way of making the lessons offered less preachy. Somehow it’s easier to look at the past and think about how is that like me? The book is about choice and change and growth. There are lessons in bigotry and the danger of ignorance.
Q: What will educators find valuable?
A: In the study questions at the back of the book, I have tried to guide readers to use higher level thinking rather than strictly recalling plot elements.
Q: How can educators use the book to teach writing in the classroom?
A: If I did my job, the readers see a very different Sam at the end the book from the beginning. Writing teachers can always use novels as models for writing. Change any element of a passage from the book and use the form and style of the writing. For example, from the opening scene, what if Dad is a farmer, chef, a drunk? Rewrite the scene.