Julia Fierro’s debut novel, Cutting Teeth, was a super enjoyable read, so I was pretty excited when I heard she had another book coming out. The Gypsy Moth Summer did not disappoint.
It takes place in 1992 on a small island off the coast of Long Island, and Fierro’s portrayal of the 90s is spot on. She even nailed the cringe-inducing, casual prejudice that infiltrated the speech of the time. I’m around the same age that the main character, Maddie, would be today, so there was a lot of nostalgia going on for me (although my high school experience was completely vanilla in comparison).
This book is heavier than Fierro’s first novel, and impressively far-reaching. These characters are dealing with classism, sexism, misogyny, and racism—internalized racism, too. They’re exploring their sexualities, coming of age and learning to be comfortable with themselves. There’s abuse, multi-generational family dynamics (and dysfunction), declining health and aging. And probably the most difficult theme of all the themes in the book: The fears Black fathers have for their Black sons. It gets downright uncomfortable. You have to sit with that discomfort, let it play out, listen and learn.
The Gypsy Moth Summer is not a fast read. There’s a lot happening here, and its topics are complex, intertwined. Reach for this book when you want something atmospheric, and when you want to linger on the characters and get to know them on a deep level.
Thanks to TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to read and review this book. Check out what other readers have to say about The Gypsy Moth Summer by visiting other stops on the tour.