The Summer That Melted Everything

The Summer That Melted Everything Book Cover The Summer That Melted Everything
Tiffany McDaniel
St. Martin's Press
July 26, 2016

Fielding Bliss has never forgotten the summer of 1984: the year a heat wave scorched Breathed, Ohio. The year he became friends with the devil. 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” is a book unlike any other I have ever read.  If you aren’t a fan of literary fiction, turn back now.  This book isn’t for you.  If you are a fan of literary fiction, you are in for a masterfully written book that a review can’t do justice.

As with most literary fiction, the plot is meandering.  Characters drive the narrative and everything from their names to their actions carry a level of symbolism that makes it almost impossible to take everything in on one reading. Set in 1984, many of the events of the period are covered, including the emergence of the AIDS crisis, homophobia, and racism.  The parallels drawn to today’s society are subtle and disturbing.  Given the current political climate, I honestly can’t think of a better time to release “The Summer That Melted Everything.”  There is a lot of food for thought, and the most uncomfortable parts will come when you realize that we are all guilty of some of the actions, purposefully or not.  The Devil didn’t just come to Breathed; he lives inside all of us.

The writing style is descriptive enough to make you feel as if you are there experiencing the oppressive heat of the town for yourself.  Even the most depressing of settings were painted in a way that made me feel at home there, and none of it slows down the pacing of the characters.  Fielding Bliss, the narrator, has a unique voice that both remains consistent and changed in the transitions between the past and his present.

The tone ranges from one of hope to an extreme darkness.  This is where I will note for the readers that request I do so that there is a disturbing animal death, as well as quite a bit of racism and homophobia.  I can promise that absolutely none of it is gratuitous, though.

“The Summer That Melted Everything” is one of those rare books that will always stick with me.  I feel like it made me a better person for having read it and hope my fellow literary fiction fans will try it and enjoy the experience as much as I did.

This unbiased and honest review is based upon a complimentary copy.

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