Title: The Summer That Melted Everything
Author: Tiffany McDaniel
Pub Date: July 26, 2016
My Rating: ★★★★★
The heat come with the devil. It was the summer of 1984, and while the devil had been invited, the heat was not. It should’ve been expected, though. Heat is, after all, the devil’s name, and when’s the last time you left home without yours?
Those opening lines should be enough reason for you to start reading this book, but if you still not sure, let me tell you how fantastic this book is.
Summer 1984, Breathed, Ohio. Autopsy Bliss publishes an invitation for the devil in the local newspaper. Not long after, his son Fielding meets a boy, who’s asking him for ice-cream and who introduces himself as the devil. But you can call him Sal, a name created from devil’s name: Satan and Lucifer.
Why, upon hearing the word devil, did I just imagine the monster? Why did I fail to see a lake? A flower growing by that lake? A mantis praying an the very top of a rock?
A foolish mistake, it is, to expect the beast, because sometimes, sometimes, it is the flower’s turn to own the name.
The devil that answers to Bliss’s invitation is a thirteen-year-old boy, bruised, in dirty overalls. He’s taken in by the Blisses. Autopsy believes that this boy is a runaway, and together with town’s sheriff begins an investigation to look for boy’s family. When no family shows up to claim Sal as their son, Sal becomes one of the Bliss, third child of Autopsy and Stella Bliss, brother to Fielding and Grand. Sal is a mysterious creature, no matter if he’s the devil or just a traumatized boy. He talks in riddles and parables; he’s more mature than any other thirteen-year-old you’d know. And all that brings people’s attention, even more when Sal is visibly different than other people in Breathed – he’s black. And many people do not feel comfortable with that, and they are not shy to say so. In their eyes, Sal becomes the reason of all the evil that is happening in the town. With the heatwave that is nearly melting people’s brains, and growing tensions among people, the summer of 1984 becomes the summer that Fielding Bliss is not going to forget.
The Summer That Melted Everything is written in the most beautiful language; I was mesmerized by it, and I was highlighting so many paragraphs. The story is, to say at least, sorrowful, some scenes are terrifying and moving. The whole book perfectly shows all the fear that is still among us, and how terrifying fear can be, and how this fear can result in us seeing devil where there is only good. McDaniel uses the story of hot summer in 1984 to write about important issues – racism, homophobia, child abuse, religion, mob mentality, fear of AIDS, agoraphobia. I was not expecting all these matters to be brought up, and it was not easy to read about them. But this uneasiness was caused by the realization that those issues are still valid, this story creates an analogy to the world we live in right now.
The story is narrated by a much older Fielding, and in between the story of the summer, he is describing his present life. Those parts are the indicator of the direction the story of the summer is going to. You can expect that there are events that traumatized Fielding, and you are yet to learn about them. There are parts of the book that are happy that will bring a smile to your face. Those are sparse, and with that, even more beautiful and much needed in the summer of shocking violence and suffering.
It is hard for me to express how I could love a book that is depicting the most heinous aspects of human nature. This story moved me and showed me all the different sides of the issues that are brought up in the story. The characters affected by the events of the summer are complicated, and you cannot say if they are good or bad. Because when you choose to brand someone as bad, you are throwing off all the good about the person. And the same go with marking someone as good, you may not see the evil that is within the person. Read this deeply moving and sad story; this may shatter you and make you weep, and sometimes books should do just that.
Thank you, Tiffany McDaniel, for providing me with the copy of the book. It is an amazing debut, and I will look out for your next book. The author did not influence my review; the thoughts are all mine, and I stand behind them when I highly recommend you to read this book.
The post was spell checked using Grammarly. Thanks to it I avoided publishing a post with 44 critical issues, and 19 advanced grammar issues.