Summer fun? Best friends? A cool summer job? The Test: Junior Lifeguard by Elizabeth Doyle Carey passes the fun summer read test.
Jenna Bowers is a competitive swimmer slowly losing her top spot on the team. This summer, Jenna wants to hop out of the pool and dive into the ocean as a junior lifeguard with her three best friends. Becoming a junior lifeguard, however, may be more difficult than winning the gold.
I’ve read a few other books by Elizabeth Doyle Carey in her middle grade series, The Cupcake Diaries, as Coco Simon. Even though I really liked the author’s writing style and characterization, I thought the books moved too slow and the stories were wrapped up too easily. Luckily, I didn’t find these problems with The Test: Junior Lifeguards and hope to continue the series.
After reading this book, I think it is perfect for reading starting to outgrow middle grade, but aren’t ready to venture into grittier young adult books. The Test: Junior Lifeguards does a great job of balancing friends, family, crushes, and more serious topics in an appropriate way for younger readers. One of the best aspects of this book is Jenna’s friend group. The dynamics of her friend group are very authentic for girls in middle school to early high school, so I think a lot of readers in the target audience could relate to Jenna and her story.
I also liked that this book had a clear ending, but left a lot of room for a sequel featuring any one of Jenna’s friends. Each of Jenna’s friends have the potential to have an interesting story line featuring one of the many mysteries set up in the first book. Out of all of Jenna’s friends, I think I would be the most excited to read about Selena. Out of the group, she was the most interesting character with the most promising story line. I think I would be least excited to read Ziggy’s story because she slightly annoyed me with her immaturity, tardiness, and careless attitude.
One of my complaints with this story was how much of the girls’ conversation centered around guys. Considering the characters’ ages, it makes sense that the girls are a little boy crazy. However, it seemed like any time a male character popped up in the book, they all gushed about his attractiveness. This happened with literally any male character, even if they only appeared a few seconds, like the “manny” to the famous girls in town for the summer.
My other complaint with this story would be some of the girl drama. Like with the boy craziness, it is expected at this age. However, sometimes it got a little too much. If one of Jenna’s friends just made a reference to the boy she liked, she quickly assumed they wanted to steal them away or thought they were cute too. This especially happened when Jenna interacted with Selena, who Jenna constantly remarked was beautiful enough to steal any guy away from her. It seemed like whenever another girl one-upped Jenna she got extremely jealous. While competitiveness is part of Jenna’s personality, it sometimes was a little too much for me.
The Test Junior Lifeguards is the perfect summer read for young girls in the stage between middle grade and young adult. This would be a great book to bring on a beach vacation! I give The Test: Junior Lifeguards four out of five stars.
I received The Test: Junior Lifeguards by Elizabeth Doyle Carey from the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review.