Book Review: The Gypsy Moth Summer (+ Giveaway!)

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Gypsy Moth Summer by Julia Fierro

From the publisher:
It is the summer of 1992 and a gypsy moth invasion blankets Avalon Island. Ravenous caterpillars disrupt early summer serenity on Avalon, an islet off the coast of Long Island--dropping onto novels left open on picnic blankets, crawling across the T-shirts of children playing games of tag and capture the flag in the island's leafy woods. The caterpillars become a relentless topic of island conversation and the inescapable soundtrack of the season.

It is also the summer Leslie Day Marshall—only daughter of Avalon’s most prominent family—returns with her husband, a botanist, and their children to live in “The Castle,” the island's grandest estate. Leslie’s husband Jules is African-American, and their children bi-racial, and islanders from both sides of the tracks form fast and dangerous opinions about the new arrivals.

Maddie Pencott LaRosa straddles those tracks: a teen queen with roots in the tony precincts of East Avalon and the crowded working class corner of West Avalon, home to Grudder Aviation factory, the island's bread-and-butter and birthplace of generations of bombers and war machines. Maddie falls in love with Brooks, Leslie’s and Jules’ son, and that love feels as urgent to Maddie as the questions about the new and deadly cancers showing up across the island. Could Grudder Aviation, the pride of the island—and its patriarch, the Colonel—be to blame? As the gypsy moths burst from cocoons in flocks that seem to eclipse the sun, Maddie’s and Brooks’ passion for each other grows and she begins planning a life for them off Avalon Island.

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This book dealt with themes and topics (family, race relations, outsiders, young love) I've read tons of times in so many different books and stories. However, it tackled these subjects in a context and format I've never encountered before. You may not think that a moth invasion on an island, with a wealthy family returning to the area would be the outline for an interesting and entrancing fictional story, but it was. The writing here shines, and lends the book it's hard-to-resist charm and emotional value. 

The island setting of this book is unique and absorbing. By creating this closed-off atmosphere the author intensifies any drama and issues that occur. Everything is confined to a small space and in the open for anyone to see. Not to mention, the island has a distinctly split system. One half is notably wealthier and better-off than the other. This fact also serves to heighten tension and form alliances. The moths act as a symbolic and behind-the-scenes backdrop to the story, which is really about wealth, race, love, and prejudice. It's all put together very well to create an engaging story. 

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Buy it on Amazon:
The Gypsy Moth Summer: A Novel

I received this book in exchange for my honest review through TLC Book Tours. For the rest of the tour click here.

I am able to give away one copy of this brand new book (US/Canada only)! Please enter the giveaway below and stay tuned for the winner to be announced soon.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. TRIPTYCH by Karin Slaughter takes place, partly, in 1985.

  2. The isolationism of this community seems like a great way to increase the tension of the story - I can see why it works so well.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!