ARC REVIEW: The Gypsy Moth Summer – by Julia Fierro

Title: The Gypsy Moth Summer
Author: Julia Fierro

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: June 6th 2017
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Finished reading: June 2nd 2017
Pages: 400

“What good are the rules,” Jules asked, “the laws, moral this and that, when you can’t follow them and protect your family at the same time?”

*** 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! ***

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Ever since I first heard about The Gypsy Moth Summer I’ve been intrigued by this story. I’ve heard lots of interesting things about it since I first added it to my list, but somehow it has taken me months to actually pick it up. One of the reasons is probably that I tend to have mixed reactions when it comes to literary fiction… And unfortunately The Gypsy Moth Summer ended up being one of those books where the genre just didn’t work for me. I really wanted to like this story and the plot is without doubt both intriguing and well developed. I liked the idea behind the island of Avalon, its history and all events leading up to its ‘climax’ during the summer of 1992. Why wasn’t my reading experience better then, would you wonder? First of all, during the whole length of this story I found myself unable to connect to the characters OR get used to the writing style, which put a mayor damper on things. I’m not saying this story isn’t well written, but it’s what you call an acquired taste or at least doesn’t appeal to everyone. It just all felt a bit too chaotic to my taste and I personally struggled with this story. I understand the gypsy moth information bits are used to bind the plot together and these insects play a both a literal and symbolic role in the story, but unfortunately they mostly ended up distracting from the plot. And as for the characters: like I said before I found it impossible to warm up to them and I couldn’t really appreciate the liberal use of sex, drugs and alcohol in the story without consequences either. It might be that those elements are used to symbolize the chaos unfolding on the island, but it mostly made me dislike the characters even more. All in all The Gypsy Moth Summer definitely wasn’t for me… But if you enjoy reading literally fiction and like the sound of this story, don’t let my review discourage you.

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It’s the summer of 1992 on Avalon, a small islett off the coast of Long Island. The normally quiet island is being invaded by gypsy moths, the caterpillars eating everything that they can find and becoming a true plague. The insects are becoming one of the main topics of conversation on the island, but that is not the only thing the islanders talk about. Leslie Day Marshall, the daughter of Avalon’s most prominent family, returns to the island with her husband and children. Nothing special would you say, but the fact is that Leslie’s husband Jules is African-American and the island is packed with predominantly white conservatives quick to form their opinions about the family… And than there is the topic of the factory and the graffiti.

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I really wanted to enjoy this story and I still think the plot itself is both rich, provoking and fascinating, but unfortunately The Gypsy Moth Summer ended up being one of those titles that just isn’t for me. Literary fiction can go either way with me in general, so that might just have been the problem here; if you enjoy the genre I would suggest still giving this story a go. That said, I couldn’t ignore the chaotic feel of the storytelling, my lack of connection to the characters, certain elements that bothered me or the fact I couldn’t warm up to the writing style.


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14 thoughts on “ARC REVIEW: The Gypsy Moth Summer – by Julia Fierro

  1. Ha, this book really does sound super interesting but like you, I can be a bit iffy with the lit fic as well… Great, honest review, though… I think my issue could also be around connecting to the characters… hmm.. will check out more about the book though… I think there’s something about it that won’t let me go that easily… 😉

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  6. I read the blurb too and it was intriguing enough but I have the same issue as you when it comes to literary fiction, sometimes I just can’t connect with it. So I’m glad I read this review because I know what to expect if I pick it up some day!

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is definitely one of those stories that can go either way for you… I hope it will work better for you if you decide to pick it up! The plot itself is without doubt intriguing enough.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m currently reading a lit fic and can also totally understanding how it can be a hit or miss. The plot, characters and writing is sooo different, it makes me wonder if all lit fic are so… chaotic. The Gypsy Moth Summer does sound pretty interesting though, but I think after the lit fic I’m reading right now, I’m going to need a break from them for a while hahaha

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    • Literary fiction can go both ways for me and I definitely have to be in the mood for it… Like you said, it’s a genre that is quite easy to ‘overdose’ on. 😉 I’ve had quite a few misses in the past, but one of my all time favorites (The Summer That Melted Everything by Tiffany McDaniel) is literary fiction so I’ll never completely give up on the genre.

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