The Summer of
Bitter & Sweet
Tawnshi / Welcome to the Michif Creamery
Located just outside of Lloydminster, Alberta/Saskatchewan, Canada. Lou and her friends are coming to you, Summer 2022, from Heartdrum / HarperCollins.
Now that she’s graduated high school, Métis teen Lou Norquay is counting down the days until she can move away from her rural hometown and start her real life. It’s not that Lou hates where her family comes from—she doesn’t. She loves summers driving the Canadian prairie highways, the easy banter between her uncles, and her mom’s clear-eyed tough love. But in a small town, your secrets and lies follow you… and Lou and her family have a lot of both.
Paying for the university education that Lou sees as her ticket out means a summer working at her family’s struggling ice cream shack, the Michif Creamery. But the close quarters get awkward when she breaks up with her first-ever boyfriend—and fellow employee at the shack—because she didn’t feel anything all forty-six times they kissed. Plus, her former best friend King Nathan is back in town and scooping at the shack too, with Lou’s lies that burned their friendship to the ground years before still simmering between them.
Then a threatening letter appears from a man claiming to be Lou’s biological father. At home, her family never talked about the white man who raped her mom, except in whispers. But now he’s out of prison, and he intends to be a part of her life, regardless of whether she wants him to or not. Knowing that telling her family about the letter will traumatize them all over again, Lou decides to keep another secret and deal with the problem on her own.
But secrets are never that easy for one person to hold, and when King finds out what’s going on and offers to help, he and Lou grow closer. Suddenly, she’s having a weird, complex feeling: actually, maybe, wanting to kiss someone for the first time. Before the summer is over, Lou will have to learn how to keep people she doesn’t want in her life out and how to invite someone she does want in—all while discovering who she is, and who she wants to be.
THE SUMMER OF BITTER & SWEET by Jen Ferguson is stunning debut YA contemporary featuring layered family relationships, an immersive sense of place, a swoon-worthy slow-burn romance, and #ownvoices Michif and demisexual representation. A beautifully-written, page-turning coming-of-age story with depth and heart, it will appeal to fans of Nina LaCour and S.K. Ali.
Content Warnings for The Summer of Bitter and Sweet: discussion of sexual assault, instances of racism, instances of physical assault, instances of intimate partner abuse, discussions of drug use, discussions of under-aged alcohol use, instances of arson.