The Summer We Came to Life (review)
Author: Deborah Cloyed
Publication Date: May 18, 2011
paperback, 312 pages
genre: Chick Lit
Available @ Amazon in paperback | Kindle
Every summer, Samantha Wheland joins her childhood friends—Isabel, Kendra and Mina—on a vacation, somewhere exotic and fabulous. Together with their mixed bag of parents, they've created a lifetime of memories. This year it's a beach house in Honduras. But for the first time, their clan is not complete. Mina lost her battle against cancer six months ago, and the friends she left behind are still struggling to find their way forward without her.
The Summer We Came to Life by Deborah Cloyed in not what I expected when I picked it up. It is so much more. I originally thought it was a just a story about friends trying to move on after the death of their close friend, Mina. It is but it's also so much more. The first line of the book, "Birth and Death are the two occurrences in a person's life that seem to say one thing: we are not the one's calling the shots.", sets the tone for the entire novel.
The story surrounds four friends: Samantha, Isabel, Kendra and Mina. They have been best friends since childhood. They're so different from each other yet their personalities complement one another. Isabel, Samantha and Kendra are morning the loss of their friend Mina. She passed away six months ago from cancer. In the past they've taken a trip every summer but this year, without Mina, it doesn't seem worth it. However their parents take charge and they set out on not only a vacation but also set out on a journey of self discovery.
The Summer We Came to Life has great characters. Samantha has just gotten engaged, maybe. She has some tough decisions to make. She's also deeply missing Mina. We get to see Mina's character through flashbacks, memories and journal entries. She wrote each of her friends a journal with advice and encouragement for their lives. Isabel has just lost her job and she doesn't know what her next move should be. Kendra is a control freak who has her life planned out. She discovers that she's pregnant and it turns her world upside down. She has had some tough choices to make as well. Their parents: Jesse, Lynette, Cornell and Arshan come with them on their vacation. Together the parents try to impart their wisdom and life lessons on survival, courage and sacrifice.
The plot was really good. This story is told through the different characters. I really like the flashbacks. It gives you an insight to the characters. I especially like the past recollections by the parents. Jesse, Lynette, Cornell and Arshan each have something to share with the girls of their past. The hardships that they endured help the girls to understand themselves more. Another interesting theme in this novel is answering the question, "What happens after we die?" Deborah Cloyed takes a stab at this question through Mina. This was an interesting aspect to the novel because this question is timeless. It's been asked since the beginning and will be asked until the end of time. Death can be a mystery in itself.
Overall I really liked this book. I enjoyed the flashbacks and learning the histories of each character. This book will make you want to take a vacation with your best friends. This is a great summer read.
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*I received a copy of this book in exchange for a review. This in no way influenced my opinion.