Saturday, September 8, 2012

Book Review: The Book Of Summers

Author: Emylia Hall
Title: The Book Of Summers
Publisher: Mira
Publish Date: May 29, 2012
Review Copy Provided By: Net Galley
Buy: Amazon
Book Blurb: For nine-year-old Beth Lowe, it should have been a magical summer-sun-kissed days lounging in rickety deck chairs, nights gathered around the fire. But what begins as an innocent vacation to Hungary ends with the devastating separation of her parents. Beth and her father return home alone, leaving her mother, Marika, behind. Over the next seven summers, Beth walks a tightrope between worlds, fleeing her quiet home and distant father to bask in the intoxicating Hungarian countryside with Marika. It is during these enthralling summers that Beth comes to life and learns to love. But at sixteen, she uncovers a life-shattering secret, bringing her sacred summers with Marika abruptly to an end. Now, years later, Beth receives a package containing a scrapbook, a haunting record of a time long forgotten. Suddenly, she is swept back to the world she left behind, forced to confront the betrayal that destroyed her-and to search her heart for forgiveness.

Review: This book was not what I expected in some ways. It was an emotional read and beautifully written.  I know that I'll want to read more by Emylia Hall in the future.

All that said, much of the story bothered me because Emylia didn't give anything away until the very end.

All we know going in is that Beth has a so so relationship with her father and Marika has died and her husband/lover Zoltan has sent a package to Beth who neither had seen in 14 years.

This is where things get tricky.

Beth starts to look at the photo album she sent and we get her back story then, as she looks at the photos of her past summers in Hungary. All the while she's doing this, you can't help but think, what did Marika do that made her daughter not want to see her for 14 years?

That's where I have a huge problem with the story.

The climax to the story had me wanting to take Beth out and shake some sense into her and then maybe shake some sense into her father, who let her behave the way she did at 16.

Most of the story is told through Beth's memories looking through her Book of Summers. We watch her grow year by year and truthfully, she wasn't a very likable kid so her actions at 16 fit her personality.

I wanted Beth to feel more guilt for her treatment of Marika, yet there was none. There was some forgiveness to her father, but I felt that she should have been down on her knees begging to make things right. Beth felt betrayed by her parents for withholding some important information, but they did it out of love not malice, so I really just couldn't accept Beth's behavior.

I'm middle of the road at how to rate this book. The writing was wonderful. Emylia's description of Hungary made me want to go there. Beth (Erzsi) and Tamas' friendship/love was sweet, but again, I couldn't grasp her actions at 16. She just cut everybody off? That plot twist to me was disappointing. This book is definitely worth reading but it will have you shaking your head about Beth and her family.

Rating: 3 flowers


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