4 out of 4 stars
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The Summer of 1957 by Judith E. Powell demonstrates how people can be unexpectedly confronted by their past, no matter how deeply it is buried. The main character, Penelope, was sexually abused as a child. She moved away and did her best to leave the incident in her past. Then she receives a letter from the abuser’s granddaughter, Elizabeth, asking for help in solving the mystery behind the man’s death.
Penelope and Elizabeth are drawn into a web of secrets as they look to the past. Elizabeth is at first disbelieving and later horrified as she is confronted with the actions of her grandfather. Penelope learns that there is so much more to her own story when she discovers and reads her mother’s journal. She was not the only victim, and the man even tried to find her when she left town. The story reveals some surprising details that will change Elizabeth’s life forever when her grandmother finally confesses what she knows about her husband’s death.
This one hundred forty-two-page book is a quick read, but it is full of interesting characters and unexpected twists. It has a great theme of facing the past and healing its wounds. It also confronts the idea of how to decide when the past needs to be left alone. I appreciated that she only went into details on the abuse incident once in the book. It was not rehashed repeatedly. I also thoroughly enjoyed the local color that the author included with her descriptions. I felt like I was walking the streets of Dayton, Ohio, myself.
My only criticism is that the actual reading of the journal dragged a bit. The information was important, but the character reads it all at once, and it gets into telling rather than showing. I thought the entries were important, but they could have been broken up in the plot.
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. It is a well-written, emotional story. The reader is drawn to the two women and feels their distress. I was not expecting the plot twist involving some secret family connections. It definitely added to the story. It is well-edited, with only a few errors. I recommend it to anyone who likes a bit of a mystery and a tale of overcoming adversity. However, this is an adult storyline with the topics of sexual assault and murder. It also contains a medium amount of profanity, but not anything that doesn’t fit with the storyline. Some readers will want to skip it for those reasons. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and hope the author writes more like it.
The Summer of 1957
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