THE FIREFLY SUMMER by Morgan Matson (MG) — Summer Reading

Your eyes are not deceiving you. This is an actual blog post. I know, I can hardly believe it, either. I read a book this week that I wanted to share with you, and here we are.

(Note, which you’ve likely figured out by now: the image is not the cover image from the book. It’s an image from, taken by Jonathan Petersson, that makes me think of summer camp. To see the book cover, click on one of the links below.)

Title: The Firefly Summer

Author: Morgan Matson

Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 2023

What the book is about: Eleven-year-old Ryanna has never known much about her mom or her mom’s family. Her mom died when she was three, and her dad has nothing to do with her mom’s family. To Ryanna’s surprise and her dad’s consternation, an invitation arrives from Ryanna’s grandparents inviting her to spend part of the summer with them at their home, which turns out to be a former summer camp populated with aunts, uncles and cousins Ryanna never knew existed.

While getting to know more about her mom, Ryanna also learns to negotiate life in the midst of a whole pack of kids (not always an easy task for an only child – take it from me, also an only); she delves into a mystery; and is galvanized into action along with the others when she learns that the old camp will soon be destroyed. She is determined not to let this happen. Through all this, she learns more about herself than she would have believed possible.

Through Ryanna’s learnings about her mom, the reader gets a peek into what the life of a pre-teen in the 1990s was like, and the “artifacts” from her mom’s life will bring smiles of recognition from anyone who either grew up during that time, or was aware of what kids were into during that time. (I was particularly delighted to find mention of the Saddle Club books!)

Why I liked this book: Beyond the main things – it’s well-written, it draws the reader into the life and experience of the main character and the rest of the family, the mystery is well done, and the entire book feels “real” – it touched a chord in me from my own pre-teen years.

When I was growing up, I loved to read books about kids at summer camp, or slightly older kids who were camp counselors. Although I never went to camp myself, I lived the camp life vicariously through those characters. This book, while totally a book of now, evoked the same sense of joy in the outdoors, in the community of camp, in the many personalities encountered in camp, and the fun experiences that are iconic summer camp experiences. (Campfire and s’mores with fireflies dancing around, anyone?)

If you’re looking for a book that will get you in the mood for summer, while also tackling some of the problems kids today are dealing with, pick up this book. Maybe have some s’mores while you read.

Don’t just take my word for it. Take a look at the Kirkus review, linked here.

The publisher’s website has a reading group guide – maybe this could be a family summer read.

Here’s the author’s website. (This is her middle grade debut, although she has written YA novels, including a New York Times bestseller.)

And in case you want some s’mores, here’s a recipe/method (with delectable photos) of how to make s’mores at home, without a firepit.

Image from Kindel Media via

2 thoughts on “THE FIREFLY SUMMER by Morgan Matson (MG) — Summer Reading”

    1. Glad to know another person like me, who never went to summer camp but liked to read about people who did. Hope you enjoy the book! And thanks — it’s about time I wrote a blog post!

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