Hurricane Summer – Asha Bromfield

I have to preface this review by remarking on a journey to Jamaica that I took several years ago. We flew into Sangster Airport in Montego Bay and then took a bus from the airport for the hour plus ride to our all-inclusive resort in Negril.  As we drove out of the city and into the countryside, I saw many of the scenes that are depicted in this novel. The free ranging livestock, the men on the sides of the roads selling their wares, the homes – cozy appearing, but so much less than what many of us are accustomed to. But, being on the outside looking in briefly, I had no clue about what I was missing from their lives and culture – this book delivered it in such a mesmerizing, yet frank way…it is a story full of rich characters and experiences that I will not soon forget…

Tilla and her younger sister Mia are flying to Jamaica to spend two months of their summer with their father. For much of her life Tilla’s father has spent half of the year with her family in Toronto, and the other half with his extended family in Jamaica. While Tilla does not want to make the trip, a part of her is anxious to see her father, his family – and cousins that she hasn’t seen in years. 

Upon their arrival to Mnachester the girls are re-acquainted with their extended family and many of their cousins, including Diana & Andre, and Aunts Adele & Herma and Uncles Wayne & Junior. There’s some jovial banter as the girls are referred to as ‘foreigna’s’ as they settle in to the house. These few pages were a bit tedious as all the introductions were made and I struggled with the Patois dialect more than a bit – but keep reading – you’ll not be able to turn the pages fast enough shortly!!  I promise! 

Shortly after the girls settle into the room they’ve been provided, their dad lets it slip that they’ll likely be staying here for a few weeks, and that he’ll be going back to Kingston for work. When Tilla attempts to interject, he shuts her down and basically leaves the two girls in the company of their family, of perfect strangers. As Tilla struggles to fit in and get to know her extended family, she is randomly subjected to many themes – hostility, discrimination, racism among her family members, love, jealousy, complacency, abuse, subservience and more. It is a sobering, sad and sometimes frightening look into a culture that I, personally, had no idea ever existed – or never thought twice about. 

Very aptly named Hurricane Summer, not only for the storms that batter the island each year, but for the storm in Tilla’s heart as well. A wonderful read that will resonate long after the final page is turned… 

I received this book as an Advance Reader Copy from #Netgalley & St Martins Press in exchange for an objective review.  Do you love to read?? Visit Netgalley.com and start reviewing books today!!

Seven Perfect Things – Catherine Ryan Hyde

Elliott Colvin is a middle-aged man, caught in a nightmare, as he cares for his beloved wife Pat, who is dying of a disease that has slowly stripped away the essence of who she is. Some days she is conscious, most days not, Elliott realizes it is just a matter of time before his beloved Pat dies.  Experiencing this loss, day by day, has changed who he is as well as his beliefs, as he struggles with who he is becoming. 

Abigail “Abby” Hubble is a small town girl, barely a teenager – the daughter of a very overbearing and difficult father and an equally docile mother – who desperately tries to stay out of her father’s way.  Abby spends much of her time wandering the woods and trails of her hometown with her friend Jamie. While exploring, they’d discovered an abandoned cabin that had been ransacked, and that is where she finds Jamie at the start of this novel, after Jamie runs away from home.  The girls leave the cabin separately, and as Abby heads home, she happens to see a man toss a sack into the river along the path, which to her horror, wiggles. She dives in to rescue what she is certain is a living creature and manages to get the bag to shore. As she tentatively opens, she discovers puppies…7 of them.  The abandoned cabin and it’s shed seems a perfect place to keep them safe as she works out a plan to care for them. 

After Pat’s death, Elliott realizes he needs to get away for a bit, and he chooses to head up to his old cabin in the woods. It’s been three years or so since he’d been, and he’s astonished to find his property ransacked and a litter of puppies living in his shed.  Shortly thereafter he’s confronted by a very distraught young girl and learns how the pups in his shed came to be.  

As Elliott and Abby get to know one another, a bond is forged between the grieving widower and the teen, and Abby finds herself wondering what it would be like if she could have a father like Elliott. Meanwhile Abby’s mother catches on to the relationship, fearing the worst, before meeting Elliott for herself and learning of the special bond between widower, teen & puppies. She also begins to catch a glimpse of how different her life could be…. 

But an angry and bitter husband has his own ideas, as he forces his family to abruptly move out of state with little more than the clothes on their backs, and no way to reach out to Elliott. But with a glimpse of a different life just out of reach, can Abby and her mother find their way back to happiness?? 

Set in the days before computers and cell phones, this is a sweet, satisfying story of love, triumph, hope, determination and, of course, puppies!! A heartwarming read on a cold winters’ afternoon!  

Available on May 4th!

I received this book as an Advance Reader Copy from Netgalley, in exchange for an objective review.  Do you love to read?? Visit netgalley.com and start reviewing books today!!