The Summer That Melted Everything
by Tiffany McDaniel
My rating: 4 stars
Publisher: St. Martin's Press (July 26, 2016)
Publication Date: July 26, 2016
Genre: Literary Fiction
Print Length: 320 pages
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.
The Summer That Melted Everything by Tiffany McDaniel
Like the stifling heat that made simply breathing almost impossible, The Summer That Melted Everything by Tiffany McDonald tells of a bigoted small town, an invitation and a young black boy who became a symbol for all that is wrong in the world. Disasters and tragedies follow that fateful summer and forever one town and its inhabitants will be changed forever.
Told through the memories of Fielding Bliss, the summer of 1984 became the summer his father invited the devil to come to Breathed, Ohio and young Fielding befriended the small black boy he thought was the devil coming in response. This is the story of the summer that bared the true hideous nature of humanity at its worst.
Does the devil live in all of us? Are we fooling ourselves to think he is an individual, separate from our own selves? The actions and events of that fateful summer proves that there is evil in ignorance and intolerance of the differences when small minds follow blindly like sheep.
Written in a very authentic and molasses-thick style, Ms. McDonald gives her characters dialogue a very difficult to read, but very easy to hear cadence. As I read, I was held in horror at the extent to which people will go in their blind ignorance. This is not a read for entertainment or pleasure, it is a dark read that indicts us all for transgressions against others. Each page feels heavy and as stifling as the scorching summer this town endured. What it did to the narrator and his stance on life is as unforgivable as his lack of ambition to learn from the past and to stand up for what is right.
If you are looking for a thought-provoking read or one to debate and discuss with others, The Summer That Melted Everything should spark intelligent dialogue.
I received an ARC edition from St. Martin's Press in exchange for my honest review.