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The summer that melted everything by Tiffany…
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The summer that melted everything (original 2016; edition 2016)

by Tiffany McDaniel

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4303358,773 (3.78)8
Fiction. Literature. Fielding Bliss has never forgotten the long, crazy summer of 1984 when a heat wave scorched Breathed, Ohio. It was the year he became friends with the devil.Sal seems to appear out of nowhereâ??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 this 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 forev… (more)
Member:Brazgo67
Title:The summer that melted everything
Authors:Tiffany McDaniel
Info:Brunswick : Scribe Publications, 2016.
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:to-read, e-book-library, kindle-library, personal-library

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The Summer That Melted Everything by Tiffany McDaniel (2016)

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English (29)  Catalan (1)  French (1)  Spanish (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (33)
Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
Oh boy do I have some thoughts.

I tried to read this book months ago. I didn't like it so I put it down. But I went back to it with fresh eyes and an open mind, and now after reading the whole book carefully, I can safely say… I still don't like it.

Immediately the tone of this book irked me. The author makes every description florid and off-the-wall original. Hands aren't just hands they're "...wetlands and his fingers the bulrushes that grew at the edges of them.", the main character claims to have heard someone describe his home town as, "...the scar of the paradise we lost.", his brother's eyes look like Russia "...the largest country in the world of his face.". This over the top description goes double for characters. Every character is an overwrought, unbearably twee parody of uniqueness. Stella is a housewife with intense agoraphobia who decorates the rooms of her house to be different countries and says she's "going to" England or Brazil when she goes to the kitchen or a bedroom. The protagonist's father is an Atticus Finch type named Autopsy Bliss who sees the law as God's divine filter and takes to writing invitations to the devil in the local paper. Elohim is an aggressively vegetarian dwarf who eats dinner at a dining table set on his front porch everyday. And this is EVERY character we spend any time with.

It just exhausts the reader. Moreover, by making everyone so quirky and unique, it ruins the effect. When discussing his father's name, Autopsy, the protagonist admits it's an "acutely strange name" but that his mother who gave it to him was an "acutely strange woman". Strangeness, acute or otherwise, is completely sapped of meaning in a novel where EVERYONE is bizarre and quirky to the nth degree.

On top of that the characters almost never act like human beings. Autopsy’s mother was a devout Christian until she slipped one day in her kitchen and God wasn’t there to catch her, then she immediately became a church vandalizing atheist. Elohim finds out his wife has been cheating on him so he makes a phone call and asks the operator to “connect him to God”. Fielding, as an adult, writes his sins on scraps of aluminum foil so that they look beautiful from a distance. And on and on. These actions are all very poetic and meaning laden, but in the world of the book they’re also things people apparently literally did, something that strains the imagination and rolls the eyes.

This disconnect might not be so bad if the author didn't also firmly ground the book in reality. As the first chapter reminds us, it's 1984, the Macintosh computer is out, AIDS is making headlines, and "Cruel Summer" is on the radio. The disconnect between this setting and the people that inhabit it is jarring at best, tasteless at worst. It can be difficult to care about characters that seem like cartoons most of the time, and is downright puzzling when the tone of the book shifts to include things like suicide, serial murder, and cannibalism. It seems like the author should have chosen to write either a poetic book with a style similar to magical realism, or a gritty and dark novel about man inhumanity to man, but by trying to do them together she fails at both.

Overall the whole book felt like nothing so much as a very well made cake, delicious but completely drowned out by about ten pounds of meticulously crafted icing filigree. The substance of the main event was lost due incessant tampering, adding, and unnecessary flourishes that went nowhere.
( )
  Autolycus21 | Oct 10, 2023 |
4.25 ( )
  eenie816 | Sep 14, 2023 |
This book is very intense. If you decide to read it, be prepared for intense emotions and ugly crying. The writing is well done and you get drawn into the story. I'm glad I was at home when I finished the book, as I would have had a lot of worried coworkers otherwise. The characters are well written and you feel for all of the main ones deeply. I received this from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. ( )
  McBeezie | Jul 27, 2022 |
The ending was not what I expected.

I read McDaniel's sophomore book, BETTY, before this one and it was my favorite of 2020. Actually, I don't pick favorites but in this case I did. That was a knock your sox off story. I wrote a review for it for the New York Journal of Books, which you can find here:

https://www.nyjournalofbooks.com/book-review/betty-novel

I always pop in and out of Goodreads to make little quips as I read a book, dropping thought nuggets as to how I'm getting along in the story, revealing what I'm thinking about. As to why this isn't a 5 star read - and I fully expected it to be after BETTY - mostly has to do with some of the writing and some of the storyline. Like I'd hinted at in my little truth bombs periodically, there were certain sentences I couldn't get into. This isn't the author's fault. And, I should add, there were more gorgeous sentences that made up for those I scratched my head over. In some ways, it was almost like she was riffing and playing with words just to see. And that's also called art.

A couple examples:

"I wondered if their child would look like a muscled dove, the build of it's father and mother."

"Watching the way that strand of damp hair fell across his eye, like a sort of whole world holding."

There were scenes where the wonderful world building painted stunning, vivid colors in my mind. The character development was a natural progression, realistic and insightful. The idea of the story was unique, so fresh. I loved Sal - his name a cross between Satan and Lucifer. Quirky. interesting characters abounded, from Fielding to Grand, to Autopsy (how's that for a name) to Stella, to Fedelia and on. What a brilliant idea, to have the devil come and spend time among a family. What a surprise to find myself loving that devil, with his poetic, and ancient wisdom tucked away in the body of a thirteen year old black kid.

What took that fifth star? Maybe some of those odd sentences I couldn't get my head around, but honestly, I think it was that ending, where I thought, huh? why go this route?

Many times I've read other reviews where a reviewer might say something like "the author seemed rushed" or "the author didn't seem to know how to end their story" etc. While I thought McDaniel's ending could have gone differently, using one that would have left a mystery in the readers mind, one that could have married the other elements of the novel's magical essence and then matched it up to the conclusion, I think the way an author chooses to end her book is her business, and hers alone. I think to say it's rushed, or they didn't know where to go might be true for some, but in this case, I sense that McDaniel is careful with her choices.

This is why writing is art, and why we read the art, and why we think about the art, and why we can never say it ought to have been this, or that. That wouldn't be art, and I do think McDaniel is a very skillful artist of words.

Highly recommend. ( )
  DonnaEverhart | Jun 21, 2022 |
I'm so surprised reading other people's reviews.
To me, this book was trying too hard, dealt almost exclusively in cliches, especially pertaining to non-fleshed out characters. And the prose... it's one thing to use metaphors, it's another to write sentences that are meaningless.

Maybe it's also a general dislike for this type of 'edgy' pessimism: everything that can go wrong, will go wrong. Just slam all the worst parts of people in one book and you'll get something interesting? ( )
  stormnyk | Aug 6, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
McDaniel, Tiffanyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Colpoys, AllisonCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Olivieri, Luciasecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Mio padre Glen, notti striate di comete e il canto dei gechi sulle zanzariere.

Mia madre Betty, una canzone jazz suonata da trombe e tralci di caprifoglio.

Dina, mia sorella, una pioggia di spruzzi sull'erba verde e bignè di burro alla menta a mezzogiorno.

Jennifer, mia sorella anche lei, stelle come fiori di tarassaco e infiniti cieli di lucciole.

Ecco, sono loro la mia estate.
E per loro è questo libro.
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Il caldo arrivò insieme al diavolo. Era l'estate del 1984 e il diavolo era stato invitato. Quel caldo torrido, no. C'era da aspettarselo che arrivassero insieme. Dopo tutto, il caldo non è forse il volto del diavolo? E a chi non è mai capitato di uscire di casa senza portarselo dietro?
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Fiction. Literature. Fielding Bliss has never forgotten the long, crazy summer of 1984 when a heat wave scorched Breathed, Ohio. It was the year he became friends with the devil.Sal seems to appear out of nowhereâ??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 this 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 forev

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