Sarah Godfrey is fourteen, and loves her dog Boysie, and her brother, Charlie. She is stuck with most everything else.
Mainly, she's stuck with her Dad. He treats her like she's invisible, and he's always gone. She's also stuck with her Aunt Willie, who's raising her instead of her mother, who has died, and she's stuck with her older sister, Wanda, who is turning into a glamor girl and looks to be heading for a place Sarah will never go. Sarah's stuck with orange tennis shoes as well -- she used to like them, but now she doesn't, and Aunt Willie says they can't afford new ones. Sarah's also stuck with her huge feet, and having the worst summer of her life.
Put upon, resentful at having to watch after Charlie, who has Down's Syndrome, Sarah's summer changes for the better when she and Charlie discover swans at a neighborhood lake. Suddenly Sarah's restless flutterings are a little more calm, and Charlie -- Charlie is entranced, believing that the swans have come especially for him. For both Sarah and Charlie, The Summer of the Swans changes everything.
This novel was my very favorite and very first YA novel, and tells about growing up in a way that is relevant to now. Though firmly set in the 1970's - references to Laugh-In, Jackie Onassis Kennedy and the like make that clear - the story of growing up stays the same.