After acting out one too any times, Nicki gets punished by being sent to spend the entire summer with her grandfather, far away from her friends and other bad influences. Here in the middle of nowhere, without cell-service, internet, tv, and electricity in general, there isn't much to do and her grandfather actually expects her to work for her stay. Whilst Nicki adapts to the situation, learns things like fishing and hunting, several strange things start happening. It would seem that the town of Punishment could be holding some pretty dark secrets. I really enjoyed Punishment Summer. It started out slow, but little by little it grew more suspenseful. Some things were a little unrealistic, but they did make for an exciting story. I liked how everything ties together in the end, even the sub-plots you might have forgotten. I would say it's a solid YA suspense novel and would definitely recommend it. I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader copy.
Sixteen-year-old Nicki is sent to stay at her grandfather’s cabin near the town of Punishment in the Mendocino Forest. As always, she hides her burn scars and keeps quiet about the mother who ran out on her. But soon after arriving, she begins to suspect Grandpa is also keeping secrets. Her exile brings an unexpected bright spot—Grandpa’s German shepherd, Queenie. The hunky neighbor boy’s another plus, though she quickly starts to doubt his honesty.
From secret pot farms to human trafficking, Nicki discovers nothing in the ‘Mendo’ is what it seems. When Grandpa takes off and the lives of new friends are endangered, Nicki must decide how far she’s willing to go to protect those she cares about. Before summer ends, Nicki will learn there are some choices she can’t undo.
It’s a good thing Grandpa taught her how to shoot.
14+ due to adult situations
The hill climb seemed endless. Up, up, up we went, keeping beneath the cover of trees and shrubs. Other than the fact that Queenie periodically growled at Ben, the dog seemed to enjoy the journey. Though the pine-scented air felt cooler under the trees, my T-shirt soon became soaked with sweat. I wanted to take a drink from my canteen and pour some water into my palm for Queenie, but worried about the etiquette. Would I have to offer Ben a drink? I wasn’t sure I wanted to swap germs with the guy. I longed to ask how much farther we had to go, but held off. He sounded pissed enough the last time I asked. Instead, I kept my mouth shut and continued climbing.
Ben stopped, held up his hand. He leaned in, his body heat adding to the day’s warmth as he whispered in my ear. “We gotta keep real quiet now. Watch where you step. Try to make as little noise as possible.” He moved off, walking in a strange semi-crouch.
I tried to mimic his stance as I followed. He stopped at the hill’s crest and knelt behind a tree. I hunkered down in his shadow, my arm around Queenie. Below us stretched rows and rows of bright green plants. Slender pines edged the field. Two men walked between the rows, the height of the crop almost to their knees. The large buds on the branches of the closest plants were easy to spot. Each man carried a plastic jug, dribbling liquid on the crop rows as they passed. The nearer of the two wore khakis plus a dirt-and sweat-stained undershirt. The distant man looked more pulled together: short-sleeved shirt tucked into his pants, hair tidy.
From what I could see, other people had spent time in the clearing, too. Maybe even lived there. Hammocks hung between half a dozen trees. Empty food cans rusted in a pile. The remains of an old campfire sat surrounded by cooking pans, food wrappers, and discarded cigarette packs. On the far side of the field sat a trash heap. Two men didn’t make a mess this size.
Black hoses ran between the rows of plants into the woods beyond. Now that we had settled in our spot for a couple minutes, the odor hit me. The place smelled like an outhouse.
Queenie’s body tensed, but she stayed silent. I leaned down and rubbed my cheek against the top of her head.
Gemma once tried growing a couple pot plants behind her garage. A gardening crew took care of their property and her parents never went behind that building. But none of the plants I’d seen before looked like this. Star-shaped clusters rose toward the sky, the glossy leaves reflecting back the sun’s rays. I stared at the sheer size of the growing area and tried to calculate the number of trees someone had chopped down. This was no home patch. This was a huge commercial operation. Ben warned me, but I hadn’t believed him.
Now I knew. We were in way over our heads.
Things aren't looking good for this teen when her father catches her and forces her to go live with her back to the land grandfather. But besides her grandfather's secrets, lots of other things are out in the woods lying in wait. A real page turner. Excellent read.
Punishment Summer is yet another solid effort by Ms. Rothschild, and could very well be her best book yet. I will forgo the plotline as it has already been covered extensively by other reviewers here and comment, instead, on how wonderfully this author develops her characters and backstories. If you love depth in your stories (who doesn't!) you will find Peggy Rothschild is more than capable of providing these attributes in everything she writes. Those qualities are more than apparent here, as well as the many "gotcha!" moments that have come to be a hallmark of her novels. Punishment Summer is an excellent YA novel.
Wow! What a heartwarming and enjoyable young adult story. What starts out as a punishment, turns out to be a life-changing summer for Nicki Steele. Although Nick is dealing with average teenage problems, she's also dealing with some heavy issues, mainly the tragic death of her sister and absence of her mother. Getting caught up in the wrong crowd and bad life choices, her father sends her to stay with her granddad. There she will learn the value of hard work, and most importantly, she will learn about herself. A beautiful, entertaining, coming-of-age story that is perfect for teenagers and adults alike. It's thought-provoking, but an easy read that kept me interested throughout. Nicki was relatable and her character didn't seem contrived. The author's writing is top notch, and I'd love to read more of her titles!
PUNISHMENT SUMMER is a mix between a coming-of-age story and a fast-paced thriller. Rothschild has a way of writing that pulls you into the story, making it hard to put the book down once you get started. Like many teenagers, the heroine is flawed and a bit troubled as she tries to figure out her place in the world. But she also has a big heart and a desire to do what's right, and you can't help but root for her as you turn the pages to see what happens next. Thriller fans are likely to enjoy this book, even if YA is not their typical genre. Disclosure: I was gifted a free copy of this book.