The Other Side of Summer

The Other Side of Summer

"This pitch-perfect story is full of hope and magic. Exquisite and unforgettable."

Fiona Wood, award-winning author of Six Impossible Things, Wildlife, and Cloudwish

“A beautifully rendered portrayal of grief, family and leaving things behind."

Bec Kavanagh, Stella Prize Schools Coordinator
  • Shortlisted for the 2017 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards

  • Shortlisted for the 2017 Aurealis Awards

  • Longlisted for the 2017 Indie Book Awards

  • A Junior Library Guild Selection in the U.S.A.


Summer is trying to recover from a tragedy, but it seems impossible when her family is falling apart around her. Having an extraordinary best friend like Mal helps a little, but Summer’s secret source of happiness is a link to the past: one very special guitar.

Now her dad’s plan to save them is turning Summer’s life upside down again. The next thing she knows, they’ve moved to the other side of the world.

In Australia, Summer makes an unlikely friend, who seems to be magically connected to her guitar. Is this for real? Has a mysterious boy been sent to help Summer? Or could it be the other way around?

This sweet and spellbinding story about family, friends and believing in yourself will warm your heart.




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To read a sample Go to the Penguin Random House site


"The natural Australian bush setting allows the author’s imagery to shine, particularly in contrast to the icy cold of London."

Joy Lawn’s review in the Weekend Australian, 21st May 2016


“A bittersweet, hopeful coming-of-age story complicated by loss, saved by love.”

Kirkus Reviews

Here’s an extract from a review that appeared in Books and Publishing on 6th April 2016:

“A beautifully rendered portrayal of grief, family and leaving things behind, The Other Side of Summer is a welcome addition to the shelves of Australian middle fiction. Emily Gale’s book gives her audience the respect they deserve—recognising that younger teens need a place in literature where they too can explore the parts of their life that are challenging or sad. This perfectly pitched piece is a beauty.”

Bec Kavanagh is a Melbourne based writer and reviewer. She is the schools coordinator for the Stella Prize and was the inaugural chair of LoveOzYA.


Is The Other Side of Summer YA or Middle Grade?

I think I can best answer this with a memory from when I was nearly thirteen and tried to get into the cinema to see Dirty Dancing with my friends. At that time (1987) Dirty Dancing was rated 15. I did not look fifteen when I was twelve, and nor did my friends. We put on eyeshadow and lipgloss and backcombed our hair. We picked out our most sophisticated clothes (stone-washed drainpipe jeans with ankle zips) and clip-on earrings.

Of course, we were all very hyped up about trying to cheat the system, but I was also riddled with anxiety – perhaps my friends were, too. On the bus we practised what we would say if questioned about our age. We reapplied lipgloss (pale pink pearlescent). Finally, the bravest of us (not me) approached the ticket booth. The guy looked at us for about three seconds and said “Sorry, girls, you’re underage.” And that was that.

I can remember the drop of my stomach as if it were yesterday. I was so ready to see Dirty Dancing! What did that guy know anyway? Why didn’t anyone take us seriously? Now we were all dressed up with nowhere to go, except to the nearby McDonalds for a sad bag of tepid fries.

So that’s pretty much where The Other Side of Summer fits in. It wants to get into YA, has applied some lipgloss and is hiding its nerves. But deep down it knows it’s not that edgy, older YA that gets the majority of airtime. It’s Middle Grade or young YA. Right on that cusp.

(p.s. I did eventually see the movie and it became my favourite for years.)

What other books are in that Middle-Grade / YA cusp, for readers of around 10-14?

I really loved this age of reading (it’s when I became a reader-for-life, I think) and I highly recommend all of these books published in the last few years.

Rebecca Stead’s Goodbye Stranger (this book is actually mentioned in the story) and When You Reach Me.

  • Nova Weetman’s The Secrets We Keep
  • Barry Jonsberg’s My Life As An Alphabet
  • Martine Murray’s Molly and Pim and the Millions of Stars
  • Meg McKinley’s A Single Stone
  • Rebecca Westcott’s Violet Ink
  • Caroline Green’s Dark Ride
  • Ruth Park’s Playing Beatie Bow
  • Jerry Spinelli’s Stargirl
  • Sally Rippin’s Angel Creek
  • Tristan Bancks’ Two Wolves
  • Francis Hardinge’s Cuckoo Song
  • Suzanne LaFleur’s Eight Keys
  • Jen Storer’s Quincy Jordan
  • Penny Tangey’s Stay Well Soon
  • Cathy Cassidy’s Dizzy
  • I loved all of these books. I’ll add more as I think of them.

Recently, Readings Books compiled this magnificent blog post recommending books for tween to early-teen readers:


And I would add to the Readings’ list: Son of Death by Andrew McDonald and The Year My Life Broke by John Marsden.