The Summer That Melted Everything: A Novel by Tiffany McDaniel
Published by St. Martin’s Press on July 26, 2016
Genres: Family Life, Literary
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.
“All love leads to cannibalism. I know that now. Sooner or later, our hearts will devour, if not the object of our affections, our very selves.”
The Summer That Melted Everything by Tiffany McDaniel is special. It is the type of book other books aspire to be. It is lyrical, poignant, gripping and so very very dark. This is only the fourth book that I have given a five-star review, and only the second that is not one of my comfort books. So that right there should really tell you all you need to know.
“Sometimes the only thing left to do is to flee the life and hope that after we’ve fled we’re spared the judgment of dying wrong.”
However, I really want to tell you more about the book. In 1984 in the small Ohio town of Breathed, the devil accepts an invitation to visit. Arriving in the form of a thirteen year old boy, Sal is accompanied by a devastating heat wave and a trail of suspicion.
Taken in by the Bliss family and befriended by their youngest son Fielding, Sal is experiencing many new things. As the heat rises so do the mysterious accidents around town. When everything comes to a head not everyone will make it out whole. Told from the perspective of an elderly Fielding, the past comes alive as he attempts to make sense of a tumultuous time for his family.
“If looks were to be believed, he still was just a boy. Something of my age, though from his solemn quietude, I knew he was old in the soul. A boy whose black crayon would be the shortest in his box.”
The writing in The Summer That Melted Everything is superb. It is at times quiet and solemn and at times Tiffany McDaniel made the words scream. The plot is very unique and is extremely nuanced. A quick aside that almost passes the reader by, will show up chapters later and have a very deep meaning.
The pacing was spot on and each day and page flowed. The world built was vivid and I could picture each of the residents and their locations as I read. The emotions were all over the place in a great way. Veering from joy to sorrow, laughter to horror, the emotions set the tone for the reader.
The characters were an odd bunch that should not have worked together at all. However, they each fit their niche perfectly and the story would not have been the same without them.
“Fear was a square that decade so it could fit into our homes better, into our neat little four-cornered lives.”
The Summer That Melted Everything is a book that should not have worked. Throwing a wide array of wacky characters and unbelievable plot points together should result in a read that never hits its mark. I don’t know how, but Tiffany McDaniel made it all work.
This was a cohesive story that was heart-breaking, joyful, full of love and hate and at times downright scary. I know I will re-read this soon to get more of those small details that really made the read. This is one hell of a debut and I cannot wait to see what the author has in store for us next.
Favorite lines – “You know, Fielding, the thing about breaking something that no one much thinks about is that more shadows are created. The bowl when intact was one shadow. One single shadow. Now each piece will have a shadow of its own. My God, so many shadows have been made. Small little slivers of darkness that seem at once to be larger than the bowl ever was. That’s the problem of broken things. The light dies in small ways, and the shadows—well, they always win big in the end.”
Biggest cliché – I’ve got nothing.
Have you read The Summer That Melted Everything, or added it to your TBR?
You can find The Summer That Melted Everything here.
Book review contributed by 125 Pages. Laura is an addict. She reads 5-8 books a week. In addition to writing her own book reviews, she frequents other book review and blogger sites for just that little bit more.