I review The Summer That Melted Everything by Tiffany McDaniel.
Many thanks to the author for providing a free review copy.
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.
As soon as I read the description, I knew I wanted to get my hands on The Summer That Melted Everything. Autopsy Bliss invites the devil to dinner with an advert in the local newspaper, and come he does. A thirteen-year-old black boy named Sal arrives, claiming to be the devil, in his scuffed overalls, with his bright green eyes. Nobody believes him at first; the sheriff is sure he’s a runaway; Fielding is certain he’s just a boy, like him. The Bliss family takes him in, and the devil becomes more than just a dinner guest.
But the emotions running through the town soon change. Sal pushed that pregnant lady, they say. He’s breaking windows with rocks, they say. He’s brought this damn heat, they say. He’s to blame for everything. It’s a summer that melts not only the town, but also the relationships between neighbours, friends, brothers. It’s the summer that everything changes.
You follow Fielding through this summer of 1984, the year of George Orwell’s predictions, and through time to when he’s an old man, looking back on his life. Fielding’s voice is genderless, ageless; it is you and I and anyone who’s ever had any regrets.
This is not a YA book. This is not a book to read lightly. It will tear out your soul so you can examine it, piece by piece; it will rip out your heart and show you what’s written there. McDaniel tackles racism, homosexuality, HIV, and hysteria, all in one bildungsroman. It is violent and cruel, shocking and terrible. There’s no happy ending to be found; this is real life. McDaniel writes with exquisite flair.
The Summer That Melted Everything is due out late July, and is the perfect summer read.
to read my exclusive interview with Tiffany McDaniel! And here
for the amazing book trailer.