Review: Punishment Summer by Peggy Rothschild

Book Blurb

Sixteen-year-old Nicki is sent to stay at her grandfather’s cabin near the town of Punishment in the Mendocino Forest. As always, she hides her burn scars and keeps quiet about the mother who ran out on her. But soon after arriving, she begins to suspect Grandpa is also keeping secrets. Her exile brings an unexpected bright spot: Grandpa’s German shepherd, Queenie. The hunky neighbor boy’s another plus, though she quickly starts to doubt his honesty.

From secret pot farms to human trafficking, Nicki discovers nothing in the ‘Mendo’ is what it seems. When Grandpa takes off and the lives of new friends are endangered, Nicki must decide how far she’s willing to go to protect those she cares about. Before summer ends, Nicki will learn there are some choices she can’t undo.

It’s a good thing Grandpa taught her how to shoot.

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Toot's Review by Stacy Sabala

Nichole has pushed her father to his limits.  She is shipped off to spend the summer with her grandfather.  Her grandfather lives in a log cabin in the middle of the woods.  There is no electricity or cell service.  Nicki is in teenage hell.  She encounters Ben and Todd Wilder, two of her grandfather’s neighbors.  He warns her away from them both.  Nicki doesn’t listen as Ben takes her to a secret marijuana field with armed men as guards.  She is scared senseless but refuses to tell her grandfather.  She doesn’t want to get in trouble with the hope of going home early.  The stress of it may drive her crazy though.
She keeps quiet and goes about her daily chores.  She comes across Todd one day on a run.  He is completely different from his brother.  Nicki feels drawn to him and decides maybe this summer won’t be too bad.  They have to keep their meetings quiet.  Her grandpa warned her away from the boys.  Things get even crazier when grandpa’s friend brings a strange girl to stay.  Nicki has no idea what is going on.  Then when she sees another girl fleeing from the armed men in the woods, she confronts her grandpa.  He explains what he really does and who he really is.  As the secrets come out one by one, Nicki realizes her life isn’t what she thought.  Nothing is what it seems. 
This book was full of secrets and danger.  Nicki came off as a troublemaker at first, but the author reveals a troubled childhood.  Her family life is not as good as you first think.  I like how she changed as the story progressed.  A little distance from things really changed her perspective.  She was an awesome character by the end.
The book is full of other unsavory characters.  The Wilder boys and their father were not a good family. Todd was the only one who came across nice but was a disappointment in the end.  The cops of the town were creepy and bad.  You could tell that from the first introduction.  You could almost feel the uneasiness when they were around. 

Nicki’s grandpa was rustic but strict.  He was off the grid living off the land.  He kept her in line but gave her freedom to roam the woods.  He was part of the change that occurred in her character.  However I didn’t like what happened with him in the end.  His actions surprised me.  I was extremely disappointed in how that part of the story turned out.  Nicki was shocked to see who she could count on when she needed something.  The author didn’t give her many options.  I liked the change Nicki went through and how strong she found herself to be.  The rest of the story and characters were a bit disappointing.  I give it a 3 out of 5.

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