My Rating ★★★★★ 5 Stars
Thanks to St. Martin’s Press and Net Galley for granting me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
I strongly recommend.
Let it be known by all who read this review and by all wondering if they should read this book that I tried to write a review which would do justice to this masterpiece.
The Summer That Melted Everything was just that- a dark, emotionally-charged masterpiece, as beautifully written as it was beautifully heart-breaking.
It is the summer of 1984 and an invitation by Autopsy Bliss, posted in the local newspaper, has been extended to the devil.
“Dear Mr. Devil, Sir Satan, Lord Lucifer, and all other crosses you bear,
I cordially invite you to Breathed, Ohio. Land of hills and hay bales, of sinners and forgivers.
May you come in peace.
With great faith,
The one who answers this invitation is a thirteen year old boy, dressed in dirty, threadbare overalls, accompanied by a raging heat; he is far from the menacing devil that one would expect. Fielding Bliss, the son of Autopsy Bliss, takes him home to his family and introduces him as The Devil. The sheriff believes him to be a runaway from a nearby town and begins his investigation to prove that this is simply a missing person’s case; but when strange things start happening in the small town of Breathed, Ohio, the community believes that the devil, disguised as a thirteen year old boy, truly walks among them.
Fear, rage and the unbearable heat consume the town’s people and slowly melt away their common sense so much so that Sal is the blame of every mishap that summer and becomes a target.
The writing is of lyrical prose, exquisitely poetic, reminding me of the works of Alice Hoffman with a touch of magic realism in the metaphors used. This is one of those books that almost every line is a memorable quote; it is thought-provoking and is to be savoured because it has such deep meaning. I had to control my highlighting lest I end up highlighting the entire book.
“Gone was the perfect temperature. The breeze. All replaced by an almost violent heat that turned your bones into volcanoes, your blood into the lava that yelled their eruptions.”
“You can tell a lot about a man by what he does with a snake… A snake that could harm you, you don’t have much choice to kill. You wouldn’t be able to leave a cobra in your sock drawer. But a snake that is no threat will greatly define the man who decides to kill it anyways.”
The characters were so strong in their personalities. Each had their unique, necessary stories which would push the plot forward. The Bliss family had an intense, unconditional love for each other that I have not seen in any other book - the love between a husband and wife, especially the one between the two brothers – Grant and Fielding – left me wanting to experience more of their shared loved.
I felt an instant connection to each of the members of the Bliss family, including Sal.
“And I smiled, as in love with my older brother as any young boy would be”
I felt anger when the characters I cared about felt anger; I felt their joy, hope, love. And I cried when they cried, I even cried when there were no sad parts; I simply cried because the writing was just too beautiful to not appreciate, and the only way to truly show appreciation was to shed a tear.
Everyone spoke so philosophical, and while it bothered me for a while that they all spoke the same, my appreciation for the writing style and love for the overall plot and characters overshadowed it.
I've never liked TFIOS, I still don't, but I hate it a little less because this book reminded me of one quote, "That’s the thing about pain, it demands to be felt".
That's what I kept thinking throughout this book - this pain in the book demands to be felt. Hell, the book demands to be felt. I don't know if anyone can read this and not feel that consuming pain and heartache.
I didn't want the book to end. I had 1 minute left and I let that minute drag out. I took a water break, bathroom break and then I came back. I almost didn't read the last 2 pages, because if I didn't read it, somehow that meant it didn’t have an ending.
I certainly didn't want it to have an end because how am I supposed to move on from it? How am I supposed to pick up another book without seeing all its flaws because it isn’t nearly as well-written and memorable as this one?
This book will surely be remembered for the rest of this year and I will recommend it to all my reading friends like my life depended on it. I can’t wait to read it again.