Title: Life Without Summer
Author: Lynne Griffin
Release Date: April 14, 2009
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
From the publisher’s website:
Life Without Summer tells the story of Tessa, a mother who has just lost her four-year-old daughter in a hit-and-run accident and the grief counselor, Celia, who tries to help her to put her life back together. When their lives begin to intersect in powerful and unexpected ways, they discover that the answers one needs might be the other’s only chance for peace. Each woman’s intensely personal journey reverberates with universal themes about the connections between love, marriage, truth, and forgiveness that no reader will forget.
I’m not sure what I was expecting when I received an e-mail about Life Without Summer. If I had been only looking at the cover, I probably would have thought it was a light beach read, something fluffy that wouldn’t require too much contemplation. Though there’s nothing wrong with that genre of books, Life Without Summer is definitely not in the same category.
I was so moved by the portrayal of grief in Life Without Summer. Tessa’s loss is palpable; the reader can feel how much she misses Abby and how horribly distraught she is. Griffin writes these emotions incredibly well. It is difficult to convincingly write a character who is helpless in the face of her devastation, yet refuses to be a victim to it. I loved how Tessa would not take “no” for an answer. When she hit a dead end, she searched for new avenues of inquiry, for new answers to the mystery of Abby’s death. Tessa was so vulnerable, yet such a strong character; it’s difficult to write that complexity in a fictional person who resides on the pages of a book. Griffin talent for doing so should be commended.
Celia was also a great character. I loved how strong she was, yet I felt so sorry for her. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t make her family get along. It was a little painful to simply sit back and watch with her while her family felt apart. The reader feels Celia’s helplessness – there isn’t anything she can do to stop what is happening around her. Still, like Tessa, I loved that she never stopped trying.
I have to admit that I knew what was coming as the pages of Life Without Summer progressed. I knew exactly what was going to happen at the end of the book. However, I’m not entirely sure that was a bad thing; Griffin doesn’t really try to hide the answers. The focus of the book is the healing process and coming to terms with what life throws at you. Tessa’s unyielding desire to know what happened to Abby is part of her grieving process. It’s not the focus of the book.
Despite the heavy subject matter, I really enjoyed Life Without Summer. It was beautifully written and appealed to my emotions. The characters were wonderfully developed; I loved and sympathized with both Tessa and Celia. The story is very engaging and the pages turn quickly. Griffin has written a real gem with Life Without Summer that is not to be missed.
Thank you to the publisher for sending me this book to review!