“I’m so happy this book was written.”
This was my first thought after finishing The Summer That Melted Everything. I am going to do my best to do this book justice, however I could never write anything that would accurately depict all my feelings about this book…
Author: Tiffany McDaniel
Genre: Literary Fiction
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press (July 26, 2016)
Source: Tiffany McDaniel via Netgalley
Fielding Bliss has never forgotten the summer of 1984: the year a heat wave scorched Breathed, Ohio. The year he became friends with the devil.
Sal seems to appear out of nowhere – 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 forever.
“The heat came 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?”
Set in Breathed, Ohio, The Summer the Melted Everything is about a boy named Fielding Bliss and the summer that changed everything, the summer of 1984. It was during that fateful summer when Fielding’s father, Autopsy, invites the devil to come to Breathed. Little did Autopsy know that turmoil and chaos would ensue…
Dear Mr. Devil, Sir Satan, Lord Lucifer, and all the other crosses you bear,
I cordially invite you to Breathed, Ohio. Land of hills and hay bales, of sinners and forgivers.
May you come in peace.
With great faith,
I am not going to revel too much about the plot, because I feel that this is one of those books that is best experienced going into it without too much prior knowledge of the plot line. I will say that for the first 15% of this book, I didn’t really know where McDaniel was taking this story, but as soon as I hit that 15% mark, it was clear this book was going to be a lot more profound than I ever anticipated.
The Summer that Melted Everything addresses the age old question, what does evil look like? At the core, this book is about fear, specifically the fear that people have of others who differ from them. It is about how some people chose to let that fear consume them. This book is a powerful piece of fiction that dives into hot button issues during the 1980s that are still very relevant today: racism, homophobia, AIDS, domestic violence, child abuse, alcoholism, mental illness, and adultery. McDaniel is dauntless when it comes to her writing, it seems nothing is off limits. This book reminded me of a mix of two classic books; I am reminded of the struggle of good over evil (racism) in To Kill a Mockingbird crossed with the mob mentality we see in The Crucible.
McDaniel’s writing is unlike any other author I’ve ever read before. It is profound, raw, and beautifully lyrical. With The Summer That Melted Everything, she has crafted an important parable, a story that is meant to teach an important lesson: fear and ignorance breed evil. I found myself highlighting passages on almost every page because this book is packed full with insight. This book is not meant to be a quick read, but rather slowly absorbed to allow the significance of it all to sink in.
The Summer That Melted Everything would make for a perfect book club selection, as I believe it would invoke hours of deep and meaningful discussion. I will actually be suggesting this one to my own book club. I will also be pushing it upon friends, family, and even strangers on the street… this book was meant to be read.
This book isn’t going to be for everyone, there are definitely some intense, disturbing, and emotional parts. If you are looking for a happy and uplifting book, this is not going to be the book for you, however if you are looking for a book that has depth and will make you look at things in a different way after reading it, here it is. Bottom line, this is an important book and it will change you. I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to read it. I am going to throw it out there and say this is going to be my favorite read of 2016. This book imprinted itself on my heart, and it will be a book that I will re-read for years to come.
“I’m not the ruler of hell. I am merely its first and most famous sufferer turned custodian with the key to the gate in my back pocket.”
“Hope is just a beautiful instance in the myth of the second chance.”
“People always ask, Why does God allow suffering? Why does He allow a child to be beaten? A woman to cry? A holocaust to happen? A good dog to die painfully? Simple truth is, He wants to see for Himself what we’ll do. He’s stood up the candle, put the devil at the wick, and now He wants to see if we blow it out or let is burn down. God is suffering’s biggest spectator.”
“That color brought Elohim and his group together. It was the color of their devil, and they needed their devil to have a color so they could find him again.”
“What did I say in that one word of six letters, sometimes only three? I supposed I said, I don’t want you to be gay. I don’t want you to be happy, and no it isn’t fine that you want to be with a man. Faggot. Isn’t that what that one word is supposed to mean? Faggot? One word that said I was scared. That I didn’t understand.”
“Pain is our most intimate encounter. It lives on the very inside of us, touching everything that makes us. It claims your bones, it masters your muscles, it reels in your strength, and you never see it again. The artistry of pain is its contact. The horror of it is the same.”
“We’ve got to keep movin’, don’t we? Sometimes things happen, bad things, on way, but we’ve got to keep movin’. If we don’t, we won’t get to the next thing, and it could really be something. It could be the best something of our lives.”
Tiffany McDaniel, you deserve nothing less than ALL the stars!!!
*HUGE thank you to Tiffany McDaniel for contacting me and sending me a copy of The Summer that Melted Everything via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author:
An Ohio native, Tiffany McDaniel’s writing is inspired by the rolling hills and buckeye woods of the land she knows. She is also a poet, playwright, screenwriter, and artist. The Summer that Melted Everything is her debut novel.