Title: The Summer That Melted Everything
Author: Tiffany McDaniel
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: July 26th 2016
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Finished reading: July 21st 2016
“The heat came with the devil. It was the summer of 1984, and while the devil had been invited, the heat had 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?”
*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***
Wow. It doesn’t happen often, but this book left me speechless. The reviews were definitely right; this debut by Tiffany McDaniel is simply brilliant! I have to be honest and say I wasn’t sure it was going to be for me, because I normally don’t really like stories with a ‘strong’ religious touch… But The Summer That Melted Everything turned out to be so much more than that. I still feel overwhelmed by this story and the feelings it managed to provoke; the prose is just THAT strong. In fact, both the excellent writing, the hint of magical realism and the discrimination/intolerance theme turned The Summer That Melted Everything into one of the best books I’ve read so far this year. Through the eyes of the main character Fielding Bliss and that dreadful summer of 1984 in the town Breathed, Ohio, we get to see a whole different version of the ‘fairy tale’ 80s. Racism, discrimination, AIDS, intolerance… The heat brings out the worst in the inhabitants of Breathed, and not just because of the rumor that the devil has come to town in the form of a black boy. Each chapter starts with a quote from Paradise Lost and alternates between an older Fielding and the young Fielding during that summer in 1984. And both Fielding and the other main characters are without well developed and intriguing characters! There are many different elements to the story, but Tiffany McDaniel did an excellent job of interconnecting them (the increasingly unbearable heat being a great symbol for the rising tensions). In short, I can say The Summer That Melted Everything is without doubt a must-read for any fan of contemporary and literary fiction with a touch of magical realism.
During the summer of 1984, the lives of those living in Breathed, Ohio, have changed forever. It all started when Autopsy Bliss, the local prosecutor, invited the devil in an article and not soon after a bruised and tattered thirteen-year-old boy showed up out of nowhere claiming to be the devil himself. Fielding Bliss is the one that found him and when he brings Sal home, he is welcomed into the Bliss family assuming he is a runaway. But not everybody is happy to welcome Sal into their town. In fact, more and more people seem to suspect his claim to be the devil, especially after an unbearable heat wave rolls into town at the same time Sal showed up. The increasing temperatures only make tensions rise even further, and when strange accidents start to happen, the town starts pointing their fingers to that strange black boy; believing that Sal is exactly who he claims to be and that he has to be punished. Will the heat drive them to do something terrible?
This book turned out to be even better than I hoped. Not only is the prose simply brilliant, but it also addresses quite a few important themes in such a way that it can definitely be called an eye-opener. These themes are mixed with a touch of magical realism that only made this story that much more original; the intriguing and well developed characters and the descriptions making it really easy to enjoy this book. The Summer That Melted Everything will be published tomorrow and is without doubt worth the read!