Two YA picks for August, both also suitable for mature upper elementary readers (in my opinion, but do keep in mind that my girls and I talk about everything - some people may feel differently): The Wild Girls by Pat Murphy and Girlwood by Claire Dean.
The Wild Girls takes place in the seventies and definitely has that feel (of which I'm rather fond). When thirteen-year-old Joan moves to California with her family, she befriends the Queen of Foxes, or Sarah, another girl her age who lives nearby, and they spend their time exploring the woods near Sarah's house. Joan also begins an imaginative journey into the wilds of her mind through writing. This book could have been written by the girls I went to Duke TIP summer classes at SMU with, it often seemed to me, from the way writing was so transformative in the lives of these girls. Both girls face challenges with their parents and both have parents who are facing some challenges of their own. This is an excellent story about girls growing into their own strength, which treats with compassion the growth of the other characters as well.
Girlwood is the story of twelve-year-old Polly, whose parents have split and who is faced with the tragic disappearance of her self-destructive older sister, Bree. Only Polly and her mystical grandmother at first understand that Bree has gone to the woods to heal herself and Polly holds on to her hope while her family is falling apart in despair. Polly finds true friends in other girls who understand the magic of Girlwood and together they work to make sure that Bree will have everything she needs until she can come back to them. This is a truly magical and beautiful story. I think everyone with magical girls in their lives should read it.