As I look forward to our family’s Spring Break trip at the beach, I already find myself wishing that it would last forever. In The First Last Day, Dorian Cirrone illustrates why I should hope that my wish is never granted.Haleigh Adams is mourning the end of her summer vacation on the last day of summer. She and her family have been staying by the beach all summer. She has developed a close friendship with neighbor Kevin Damico, but fears that the friendship will end when they return to their respective homes.
On the morning of the last day of summer, Haleigh meets up with Kevin. They spend the entire day together, including a trip to Atlantic City.
At the end of the day, Haleigh finds a set of “Magic Paints” in her backpack. She doesn’t know who put them in there, but she is intrigued by their instructions: “Paint your heart’s desire.” She thinks back over the day and remembers a scene from the beach. She paints the scene, takes a deep breath, and wishes “for a mulligan of [her] last day of summer.”
Haleigh wakes up the next morning to discover that her wish has come true—it is not the next morning at all, but a do-over of the last day of summer. People say the same thing to her throughout the day, the same events happen over the day, and the day ends the same way (although without her painting the picture).
Day after day, Haleigh wakes up to this same “last day of summer.” She tries changing certain parts of the day, and although she can make little changes, she can’t change the biggest things that happen during the day. I loved this passage:
By the time Kevin wanted me to play Scrabble, my mind was as mixed up as the tiles Kevin poured out onto the table. Still, I picked the same ones I did every night. I’d memorized everyone’s letters as well as the words they’d put down. And I’d secretly researched tons of words on the Internet so I could figure out how to get the most points. I knew it was cheating. But it was just a game. It wasn’t hurting anyone. Right?
So when Kevin put the letters M, R, O, N next to the letter O that was already on the board, I was ready. I scrunched up my face as if I were concentrating really hard, and then placed my O, X, and Y before the word “MORON.” “Yes! Forty-two points!” I shouted.
“Oxymoron?” Kevin said. “How did you know how to spell that?”
“I looked it up.”
“What?” he said. “When? You’ve been sitting here the whole time.”
“Uh, I mean I looked it up once in school—when we studied poetry. It’s when you put two words together that contradict each other.”
“She’s right, son,” Mr. Damico said. “She’s gotten us good.”
Haleigh eventually realizes that the never-ending summer has to come to an end. She enlists Kevin to help her—which means she has to figure out how to tell him (again and again) that the last day of summer keeps repeating.
Ms. Cirrone has created an engaging story with a believable main character. It is written in the first-person from Haleigh’s perspective, and Haleigh’s friend Kevin is a fabulous sidekick. Not only does the book have a great concept, but it is rewarding to watch Haleigh grow through her experience with the time-loop.
Ms. Cirrone’s website is www.doriancirrone.com. At her website, she has a link to her blog, which includes a post that shows “some of the many incarnations” of the first page of The First Last Day. It is amazing to see how different each of these versions are! Sometimes it is easy to forget how hard writers work to find the perfect way to tell a story—Ms. Cirrone’s blog post gives just a little taste of that for us.
Have you read any great books lately?