When 17-year-old Rachel Guo learns of an opportunity to spend the summer abroad in Turkey, the opportunity seems almost too good to pass up. She anxiously wonders if she will like her host family and whether she can assimilate to a completely different religion and culture. When Rachel meets her host family, especially her host sister Aylin, her fears are put to rest and she begins to experience a life very different to her own in Washington. As Rachel grows closer to Aylin, she discovers that despite a few differences in culture, the two teenagers are very much the same. As the summer progresses, Rachel finds new experiences, especially in her blossoming romance and Turkey's exciting culture.
Secrets of a Summer Village, a novel by Saskia Akyil, is a culturally rich tale that weaves American and Turkish traditions with love and friendship. I found the book to be engaging as well as enlightening, and I learned about Turkish customs, from reading coffee grounds to the many sayings for good luck. The plot held my attention at first, but could have been more engaging and tended to be slightly repetitive as the action progressed. I enjoyed learning about Turkey, and I could also easily relate to the two main characters. Overall, I would recommend this book to teenage girls interested in becoming more culturally aware, as well as anyone looking for a unique summer read.