The Summer We Came to Life - Deborah Cloyed
Released June 2011
Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth
It supposed I should start right off by saying it took me two months to get through The Summer We Came to Life. I loved the premise, but the delivery really just didn't work for me. The intertwined story lines distracted me to the point where I'd have to put the book down.
The story involves a group of women who have always vacationed together to some exotic destination. Since they were girls, they've spent a part of every summer vacationing together as a mix of girls and parents, but a death has drastically changed Samantha Wheeland's thoughts. She and Mina were closest and Mina's death (cancer) has shocked Samantha to the core. Instead of staying with those who love her, Sam took off to Central America. On top of everything else, Sam's rich boyfriend has proposed and she's not sure what to make of it. It's some of the women's mothers who push Sam into going to a beach house in Honduras.
Mina's other friends also struggle with their grief. For Isabel, she becomes a workaholic and then loses her job leaving her stunned. Kendra also works away the grief, but soon discovers she has a problem that cannot be ignored. Meanwhile, their mothers use this time to share their stories of love and loss in hopes of helping them face their problems head on.
In Honduras, each woman comes to terms with Mina's death by being around those who loved her most. As she reads Mina's diaries and receives signs from Mina, Sam starts to consider the choice she faces. When another tragedy strikes, Sam is finally forced to confront her choices and decide if marriage is right for her.
I expected to really love this book. It's extremely rare that I pick up a Mira and not fall head over heels in love with the story. In this case, I understood Sam was grieving, I lost a loved one myself last fall, and found her gloomy attitude hard to take.
Surprisingly, it was the mother's stories that really grabbed me. I loved hearing about Jesse's husband and her struggles to flee a male dominated world with her daughter. I equally enjoyed Lynette and Cornell's story involving their bi-racial relationship in the 1960s. Those stories were fascinating and I wish they'd gone into much more depth. Had the book focused just on them, I would have loved every word.