The Summer of Saint Nick, by Josh Burk

This review was originally published at

Josh Burk, a homeschool graduate, wrote his first book after finishing college. The goal was to create a novella for young teen readers that would be both entertaining and educational, seeking to improve the readers’ vocabulary while delivering a captivating story. The end result was The Summer of Saint Nick, a 168-page quality paperback that can be enjoyed by all ages and types of students and adults alike.

The Summer of Saint Nick is a thought-provoking story about a 16-year-old boy named Nick. He is a nice guy and a good student academically, but he’s unhappy and unpopular because his shyness keeps him from making friends. Then when summer vacation begins, something amazing happens that has the potential to make all of his wildest dreams come true.

I don’t want to give away the plot because it’s too much fun to discover on your own as you read the story, but suffice it to say, it really goes to show that things don’t last but charity has its own rewards. The Summer of Saint Nick brings to life everyone’s favorite get-rich fantasy as it ponders the age-old question: What would you do if you had a million dollars (or more)?

The Summer of Saint Nick is an engaging, fast-paced morality tale that is enjoyable to read without being heavy-handed or preachy. Pre-teens and teenagers will quickly identify with the realistic characters and contemporary setting of this story, while parents will appreciate the book’s wholesome content and lack of anything offensive.

I’m a 45-year-old mom and this tale of fortune, romance, mystery, and sacrifice had me on the edge of my seat the entire time I was reading it. All of the plot twists, turns, and surprises took me through a whole gamut of emotions as well. There were a couple of times when I was just about bursting at the seams with either joyous excitement or acute agony!

It took me approximately two hours to read The Summer of Saint Nick in one sitting. Expect to take longer if you stop and review the vocabulary words at the end of each chapter. My only regret is that the book was over so suddenly. Nick had become a friend to me and I didn’t want the story to end. Does he go on to college and realize his dream of being a lawyer? How about Ryan the bully, will he ever change?

Anyway, in addition to being a great story, The Summer of Saint Nick is designed to help students build their vocabulary! How many people actually stop to look up words in a dictionary when they are reading? It interrupts the flow of the story. But this book does the reference work for you, making it easy to learn new words as you read.

Interspersed throughout the text are over 300 advanced words as seen in SAT and ACT tests. The featured words are italicized in bold where they are found in the context of a sentence, and defined at the bottom of the same page where they appear, so you don’t even have to flip back and forth between pages. A pronunciation guide is included with each word. At the end of every chapter there is a word review to reinforce your learning, plus a complete glossary at the back of the book.

This makes it so easy to build your vocabulary through reading! I majored in English and as a word lover myself, I recognized many of the words in this book but still found myself looking at the definitions that were provided just to be sure I understood their meaning. Especially with all of the dumbed-down and questionable literature being published for young adults these days, such a series has tremendous potential to actually enhance their knowledge while upholding positive moral values.

The author, Josh Burk, was homeschooled from kindergarten through high school. He graduated from Ouachita Baptist University with a B.A. in Mass Communications and Spanish. He self-published The Summer of Saint Nick in late 2007 and plans to make it the first installment in an ongoing VocabCafé book series focusing on linguistic excellence and quality entertainment. I would definitely like to see more books like this! — Teri Ann Berg Olsen,

The Summer of Saint Nick is available on To learn more about the book and the author, visit

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