Book Title: The Summer That Melted Everything
Author: Tiffany McDaniel
Publisher: Scribe UK 2016
Source: Sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Page Count: 310
Genre: Literary Fiction
Audience: Those who read deep and dark fiction where anything goes.
Buy? Read? Avoid?: Buy it, read it and then tell people about it!
Summed up in one or two words: Prejudice. Regret.
Author Bio: Tiffany McDaniel is a native of the state of Ohio in America. TM is a poet, play write, screenwriter, artist and author. The Summer That Melted Everything is her debut novel.
First Impression: This is a book that broke me. I felt emotionally drained after reading this! This is a book you will remember reading years down the line. TSTME is intense, insightful and jam packed with so much prejudice and deeply moving content that you it will stay with you for a long time, haunting your thoughts and emotions. There is a little humour and a great sense of adventure to begin with, and slowly turns to a sense of dread as events take a turn and the devil is included in some truly awful events and circumstances. This is a must read.
When a local prosecutor prints an invitation to the devil to come to Breathed, Ohio in the local newspaper after a case he was working on went wrong, he never thought Lucifer himself would actually appear.
Especially in the form of a black 13 year old boy.
Fielding Bliss, the son of Autopsy Bliss (the local prosecutor) finds the devil or 'Sal' as he prefers to be called, walking through town and he invites him back their house so he can meet the man who invited the devil to town.
Around the time that Sal enters the community, an incredible heat wave takes over the town. Everything that is not frozen melts and the towns people start to go crazy, the heat turning their minds. Can Sal really be the devil himself? He talks the talk, Sal is well versed in religious text and has a powerful insight into people's soul, talking to their very core. That combined with him being implicated in several incidents in the town, the people very quickly begin to believe that this boy is the devil himself.
This is a story about family, prejudice, fear and community. Can the family save Sal and most importantly, can they save themselves?
Story: This is one hell of a story...excuse the pun. At times it literally took my breath away. Not always in a good way. Its hard to believe that this is Tiffany McDaniel's debut author as she is a force to be reckoned with. This story is one that needs to be experienced. As the reader I was charmed, scared, hopeful, doubtful, fearful and disgusted by and about humanity. TM is so talented, has such a way with words and is able to chill the reader to the very core, even with all this heat. The story starts out fairly charming, funny and somewhat optimistic. After Sal enters the community and people start to realise that he may be the devil, things change dramatically. After about 100 pages I was filled with an sense of dread that I could not shake, but I also could not stop reading. Some will say I am over dramatic, others will completely agree.
Characters: First off Fielding Bliss is a perfectly crafted character. His past and his present are well written, executed and he shares a wide range of thoughts and emotions. He goes through a lot im afraid and you get to hear it all. Sal is also a great character, it was fun to spend time with him, hear his stories, see him react to things in Breathed and his speeches on heaven and hell are incredibly moving and insightful, Grand for me was the most potent character here...the hero that falls hard, he broke my heart many times. Every character has a place in this book and not a moment is wasted with any of them. Each character seems to have two sides to them and no one is safe in this community, people try to act normal, but in the presence of the devil, people can't the crazy in.
Themes: This novel is packed to the rafters with intense, earth shattering themes that leave readers questioning a lot. Homophobia, Racism, Religion, Child Abuse, Youthful Hope, Hell, Heaven, Death, Hate, Love and Decay. Each theme is expertly placed to either knock you down or pick you up, at the end I was definitely emotionally exhausted.
Likes: I loved the honesty of this book. The writing to me was phenomenal and I found connections with characters, thoughts, feelings and themes every step of the way. The characters were heartwarming, heartfelt and heartless. I enjoyed the fact that not a word was wasted and the author was seriously invested in this piece and she did a wonderful job.
Dislikes: This book goes to far. A lot. My heart hurt. You may think I am a wuss, but being a father and a husband, I connected with this material frequently. I still would recommend it to everyone I meet because people need to read books like this to make them think a little harder about everything.
Rating: I have made my point about this book and its author. Buy this book! Hardback as the artwork is epic. You will find in this tome, a life, a hard life with lots of depth, emotions, fragility and brutality. You will see beauty, deformity, heart break, anger, regret and faith. Money well spent. Thank you to Scribe UK for the opportunity to read this piece.