This is the perfect book for those tween girls with one foot still in childhood while everyone around them is growing up, whether they like it or not. Engaging and relatable, The Summer Before Boys is a speed read with surprising depth. The backstory of Julia's mother in Iraq, told through a series of flashbacks and facts about women who have served in U.S. wars, is both informative and poignant. Julia fears that her mother will be different when she comes home, like her friend's father. She also worries that her mom won't make it home at all. In the midst of all this worrying, Julia develops a crush on a local boy. This puts a big strain on her friendship with Eliza. When Julia receives her first kiss, Eliza goes missing, and although all is well in the end, an important lesson is learned about letting a boy come between friends.