The Summer before boys captures perfectly the awkwardness and transition of age 12 to 13. It had a real childlike quality to it, and I really enjoyed reading it. It's short, and I'm not sure if it's classified as MG or not, but it's very clean. It does have some darker (not extremely dark, but...) issues. It's the first book I've read where a mom is in Iraq. She's dealing with this in the whole book, and I think that it's a noble and needed thing to talk about in contemps. (maybe dark isn't right word... just hard) I love the complicated family structure, it really adds to the authenticity, because in real life, families are almost always complicated in some way or another. The friendship between Julia and Eliza is dynamic, and I like to see what causes it to change and grow in different ways. It was a neat touch how they had their imaginary world and it was a form of bonding that helped them. This is a great summer book, and I recommend to give it a try.