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June 12, 2017

A Story to Sink Your Teeth Into: The Gypsy Moth Summer by Julia Fierro #MondayBlogs

by Susan Roberts

This is a beautifully written book about a summer in 1992 where everything changes.
Amazon affiliate links are used in this post. A free book was provided for an honest review.

The Gypsy Moth Summer
June 2017; St. Martin's Press; 978-1250087515
ebook, print (400 pages); women's fiction
Julia Fierro uses the life cycle of the gypsy moth as a background to the story and as the moths burst into life, so too does life on the island. As the gypsy moths are totally destroying the leaves on the trees and exposing the houses below so too is the ongoing story exposing the people on the island for what they really are.

Avalon Island is divided by the very rich who lived in the big mansions and whose teenage children have nothing better to do than drink and do drugs. The other half of the island is made up of the working class whose teenage children often spend their summers working.

Everyone on the island is connected with Grudder Aviation who built planes during the war and now is inadvertently poisoning the drinking water and causing a large amount of cancer on the island.

In the summer of 1992, with the return of Leslie Marshall and her African-American husband, racism becomes one of the main themes of the summer.

The Gypsy Moth Summer is a large book with lots of characters (who are often difficult to keep straight) and touches on many important topics. It's a coming-of-age story for Maddie and Brook; it's the story of classism, racism, and environmentalism. This is not a simple beach read but a novel to be read when the reader can sink into the story and see the often dark side of life during this time period.

Buy The Gypsy Moth at Amazon

About the Book

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.

Vivid with young lovers, gangs of anxious outsiders; a plotting aged matriarch and her husband, a demented military patriarch; and a troubled young boy, each seeking his or her own refuge, escape and revenge, THE GYPSY MOTH SUMMER is about love, gaps in understanding, and the struggle to connect: within families; among friends; between neighbors and entire generations.

About the Author:  

Julia Fierro is the author of the novels The Gypsy Moth Summer (St. Martin’s Press, 2017) and Cutting Teeth (St. Martin’s Press, 2014). She lives in Brooklyn and Santa Monica with her husband, writer Justin Feinstein, and their two children. She can be found online at and on Twitter @juliafierro.

Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina when she isn't traveling.  She and her husband enjoy traveling, gardening and spending time with their family and friends.  She reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction, and thrillers. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with her on Facebook.

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  1. I have to admit that gypsy moths kind of freak me out ... thankfully I'm not living in this book! LOL

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.