The Summer That Melted Everything
Written by Tiffany McDaniel
Number of pages: 320
My Rating: 4/5 stars
Published: July 26, 2016
Read in July 2016
Summary according to Goodreads
Fielding Bliss has never forgotten the summer of 1984: the year a heat wave scorched Breathed, Ohio. The year he became friends with the devil.
Sal seems to appear out of nowhere - a bruised and tattered thirteen-year-old boy claiming to be the devil himself answering an invitation. Fielding Bliss, the son of a local prosecutor, brings him home where he's welcomed into the Bliss family, assuming he's a runaway from a nearby farm town.
When word spreads that the devil has come to Breathed, not everyone is happy to welcome the self-proclaimed fallen angel. Murmurs follow him and tensions rise, along with the temperatures as an unbearable heat wave rolls into town right along with him. As strange accidents start to occur, riled by the feverish heat, some in the town start to believe that Sal is exactly who he claims to be. While the Bliss family wrestles with their own personal demons, a fanatic drives the town to the brink of a catastrophe that will change this sleepy Ohio backwater forever.
I received a copy of this novel for review, but that does not affect my opinion.
This novel took me longer to read because I had been so busy with my retail job. All I wanted was to tuck into a blanket and spend the day reading this novel. Even though it tells the story of the summer the devil came to visit Breathed, I feel this would be best read in the colder seasons because it is an older, heavier style of reading. This was so different from anything I have ever read before, in both the plot and the writing. It did take me a little while to settle into the story and adjust to the writing style, but this is not a genre that I read very often. I do believe that you have to be in a certain mood to read this novel, or it will not affect you as it should.
There were so many emotional layers to this novel, bringing each character to new levels of growth. We learn why Fielding's mother is afraid of the rain, something that may seem a trivial fear, and my favourite was learning about Sal and his past experiences. One of the quotes that he said early in the novel really spoke to me; "Even a devils heart isn't just for beating."
When I first read the premise of the novel I had expected something horror based, or even plot heavy. Instead I found this novel to fit almost into a contemporary genre, driven by the characters, an everyday town coming to face their own demons. Imagine yourself walking home from the grocery store, when you find a young man who claims to be the devil. From that day on this boy brings to life concerns you did not know you had, and completely opens up the community's eyes - both positively and negatively. This novel carries so many themes, but come together so seamlessly and beautifully. The author manages to bring race, spirituality, family, homophobia, and self-love all together in 300 pages.
Something that I did not care for in this novel was that it was narrated by an older Fielding, so we see both past (when Sal first arrived) and present (aging and alone) events. I understand the significance between this connection, since we are seeing how the trauma Fielding suffered affects his daily life years later. I would have rather seen the story take place day to day with an epilogue showing the effects, or even being narrated in third person.
After writing this review I have come to realize that I enjoyed this novel much more than I had originally thought. I have updated my rating from three and a half stars, up to a four because I enjoyed more things than I disliked. This novel spoke to me deeper than I realized, and it was not until I had read another novel that I realized its impact. Overall, I think this was a great story that made me think very seriously. These characters were so wise, and really made me think about life. I am really hoping that this author will continue writing, because she has such an incredible writing style, and master way of storytelling. If you are interested in adult fiction, I recommend you checking this one out after it is released tomorrow!