Book cover of The Summer of Bitter and Sweet

The Summer of Bitter and Sweet



Publisher & Publication Year

Heartdrum, 2022

Publisher's Book Page


Jen Ferguson (Michif/Métis)

Author's Website 




Lou has enough confusion in front of her this summer. She’ll be working in her family’s ice-cream shack with her newly ex-boyfriend—whose kisses never made her feel desire, only discomfort—and her former best friend, King, who is back in their Canadian prairie town after disappearing three years ago without a word. But when she gets a letter from her biological father—a man she hoped would stay behind bars for the rest of his life—Lou immediately knows that she cannot meet him, no matter how much he insists. While King’s friendship makes Lou feel safer and warmer than she would have thought possible, when her family’s business comes under threat, she soon realizes that she can’t ignore her father forever.

Notable Achievements

Stonewall Honor Book; Lambda Literary Award; Governor General’s Literary Award for Young People's Literature – Text; William C. Morris Award Finalist


Publishers Weekly: "Ferguson tackles necessary issues—of identity and sexuality alongside colonialism, generational trauma, racism, physical and sexual assault, and substance reliance—through well-wrought, complicated characterizations and prose that sings with poetry."

Kirkus Reviews: "Heart-rending and healing; a winning blend that will leave readers satisfied."

School Library Journal: "The honesty and complexity of this book make it a gripping read; a great first purchase for libraries serving teens."

The Horn Book: "Young adult readers can relate to the struggles Lou is facing as she navigates her transition from high school to college, and also use them as a conversation starter about race, identity, sexuality, dating, and friendship."

Educator Guide

This guide to Indigenous literature, created by Andrea Page in association with Heartdrum, includes discussion questions for The Summer of Bitter and Sweet as well as a general introduction to the importance of Indigenous books.

Link to Guide

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