Charlie and her father are on their annual summer vacation to visit grandpa in the small town where her parents grew up .. This time neither Grandma nor Mother is with them. Mother died several years ago and this is the first vacation since grandma died. Grandpa just wants to sleep all the time and father is a shadow of his former self. Neither is very aware of Charlie.
For the first time in the many years she has been visiting, Neighbor Rose and her two friends decide to befriend Charlie. Rose's reasons aren't exactly simply to be friends but rather to use Charlie to get out of the town she feels stifled in. Dave seems to have fallen in love with Charlie which she finds very interesting but both are very awkward. There are trips to the water falls, a camping trip in which Charlie hears the others singing a song that makes fun of her. This results in Charlie dumping every one's friendship. There is a little swearing. Charlie tries to learn to drive. Dave is bitten by a snake and nearly dies. Throughout the story, which is narrated alternately by Rose and Charlie, Charlie hears music in everything and writes songs and sings mostly to herself and Rose speaks of the science in everything. Charlie is a shy one, reluctant to show others who she is, hurt before by teasing and possibly dumped by a close friend just before vacation. Gradually the group of likable sort of friends sort out who each really is and come to terms with all that has happened in this one eventful summer vacation. I think this would be great for middle schoolers who like Natasha Friend. jdw 10/27/10