This weekend, as I write, folks in Orem, Utah (where Utah Valley University is located) are celebrating the annual “Orem Summer Fest.” This includes a carnival with rides, food trucks, and craft booths in a local city center park, a “kick off” parade through downtown, a “cutest baby” contest (and more), as well as a culminating fireworks display. The Orem High School Marching Band has been practicing throughout the neighborhood for two weeks, and I suspect that Mountain View and Timpanogos High Schools have been doing the same thing.
Well guess what? I thought of a connection to this! The Orem Summer Fest is all about celebrating what’s great about living in Orem, Utah… and it made me wonder about fiction for young people that might have their settings in Orem, Utah. I actually know about one (and I know the author, too!): If I Forget, You Remember, by Carol Lynch Williams (Yearling Press, 1999). I love this book for its plot and characterization as much as I do for its location!
This description is adapted from the hardback book jacket blurb: Sixth grade has just ended and Elyse Donaldson is ready for a perfect summer. She’s going to read her favorite books and write her first novel. She’s even determined to get along with her older sister, Jordyn. But her plans quickly unravel when Granny, whose Alzheimer is getting worse, moves in. Elyse finds change difficult as she watches her beloved grandmother slowly slipping away from them, but she also finds that she is a lot stronger than she knew.
Reminiscing about how much I loved this book also made me think about a book series that was set in my previous location – Buckhannon, West Virginia. Phyllis Reynolds Naylor wrote a delightfully funny series of books about the Malloy family (with all girls) who move in across Island Avenue from the Hartford family (with all boys). The take-off from Hatfields and McCoys gives you a subtle idea about what to expect. The whole series is a delightfully funny and laugh-out-loud experience – perfect for reading aloud to a variety of ages! My personal favorite will always be the first: The Boys Start the War, but this series could take you through the entire summer: The Girls Get Even, Boys Against Girls, Who Won the War?, The Girls’ Revenge, The Boys Return, A Traitor Among the Boys, The Boys Take Control, The Girls Take Over, Boys Rock, and Girls Rule!
Do you know about fiction for young people that has YOUR hometown as its setting location! Please let us know! Happy “Orem Summerfest,” everyone!
Posted by Nancy L. Peterson, Ed.D., Professor of Teacher Education at Utah Valley University, and Co-Chair of UVU’s Forum on Engaged Reading – “For the Love of Reading”