Saturday, August 13, 2016

Review + Interview: The Summer That Melted Everything

Hi! After a long while, a review! I was supposed to post this on its release day, but my schedule got full and the weather right now... didn't let me do so, but here it is! I also contacted the author for an interview, and she agreed. I literally can't wait to share with you what I thought of this, so let's get into the review! This is about to get LONG, but it's really worthwhile. This book is everything.

Title: The Summer That Melted Everything
Author: Tiffany McDaniel
Number of Pages: 320 (HB)
Publication Date: July 26, 2016
Publisher: St. Martin's Press


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. 
NOTE: The author sent me an eARC in exchange for an honest review.


I must say that I'm so glad that my first Adult-Fiction read is The Summer That Melted Everything. Everything about it spoke to me on a really personal note, not only because I've thought about similar things entailed in it, but also because of how the characters felt so realistic. It's also the first novel I finished set (or partly set), in 1984, clearly a homage to Orwell. The Summer That Melted Everything is about Fielding Bliss, and the stories surrounding his childhood, and the abduction of which. It all happened the Summer of 1984, when Sal, who claims to be the devil himself, appears in their town Breathed, Ohio.
Our sins widen us till the narrow way is something we can never go through.
Tiffany McDaniel's writing was very vivid and detailed. Fielding narrated his story using descriptive language. Another good thing that I noticed while reading about the characters and the dialogue was that everyone seemed so poetic in Breathed. Every action done, or word said, seemed to have a deeper meaning than what was actually present. And I think that that's a lovely touch to world-building. For me, this just meant that I get to connect with the characters more deeply. Their poetic-ness entertained me. Yes, the introduction/rising-action of the plot was somehow dull, but it was humorous. And I'd like to think that the kind of pacing used in those parts were so, in order for us readers to be prepared by the amount of loss and damage that might be done unto us once we start reading downhill. There's also the plus factor to really creative names like Fielding, Grand, and Autopsy. 
 The finale of fear is first neared by small labors of bravery.
[sort of spolier-y part!] The entire narration uses the vignette-style, in which a character in the present tells a story from the past. At first I got confused as to where the present and the vignettes met, since the transitions were blurry in the beginning. Soon however, I discovered that the switch to vignette-present or vice-versa was there because they highlighted significant events in Fielding's life. It greatly accented what happened/is happening in his world whether it was the summer of 1984 or the current year. Speaking of which, I found myself crying (Oh Granny!), or nearly crying, at some points in Fielding's life. I don't know why, but it seems like his entire existence (and his parents' too, soon enough) was basically revolving around regret, loss, and suffering. Yes, there were some cases of love and happiness, but the overall mood/tone of the book was sad and regretful. DARN ALL THESE FEELS!
That's the problem of broken things. The light dies in small ways, and the shadows - well, they always win big in the end.
Let's talk about the more technical stuff. What I loved most about The Summer is the amount of homages it made to very significant pieces of literature (it IS a significant piece of literature in itself, though!). We got Milton's Paradise Lost at the beginning of every chapter (passages were phrased like Bible verses), as well as numerous Biblical references. There were other allegories embedded within the text, and the correlation between those works and the story got to me perfectly. Again, the characters described everything in a poetic way, which made me love the story even further. Also, there were nuances about issues that needed representation in literature, yet another reason to love this book! The diversity covered is really astounding. From Racism, to the LGBTQ+, even Feminism, such issues were addressed with the plot in itself, and it wasn't trying hard or anything. They were intertwined with the plot so well, and they were really effective, in my opinion, of raising awareness about these issues.
Later that night, I would find the Bible open on my pillow. A line highlighted there. Hebrews 13. ''Let brotherly love continue."
Overall, this is one intense journey for me. I was able to conquer reading this masterpiece, despite all of the heartbreak that I felt throughout. The ending was open-ended for me, but that's just how I like it. The conclusion of Fielding's story even explained why the book is entitled as it is. Another heartbreak. I genuinely thought at first that it was going to be about the devil. But it was way more than that. It was also about being in Eden, Heaven, or whatever paradise, and getting lost, shattered, and broken, immediately after. A must-read. If I were to blurb this it would be "This book became a classic the moment Tiffany McDaniel thought of it."


A. About you

1) Who inspires you to write?
Me and writing were born together.  It’s the river of my soul and is a part of me.  It’s something I’ve always done.  No one inspires me to write.  I think that’s the case with every writer.  The inspiration comes from the spinning chaos within our own selves. 

2) If you could have lunch with three writers (alive or not), who would they be?
Let’s see, I’d say Ray Bradbury, Shirley Jackson, and Agatha Christie.  I could share a glass of Dandelion Wine with Bradbury, talk about sugar and arsenic with Jackson, and solve a murder with Agatha Christie.  

3) What is your motto when it comes to writing?
I don’t have a motto, actually.  Thinking just now I suppose I’d say to always be true to your characters.  

4) Do you have any new/current writing projects? If yes, can you divulge as much as you can about it/them?
I have eight completed novels and am working on my ninth.  The novel I’m hoping to follow The Summer that Melted Everything up with is titled, When Lions Stood as Men.  It’s the story of a Jewish brother and sister who escape Nazi Germany, cross the Atlantic Ocean, and end up in my land of Ohio.  Struggling with the guilt of surviving the Holocaust, they create their own camp of judgment.  Being both the guards and the prisoners, they punish themselves not only for surviving, but for the sins they know they cannot help but commit.

5) If you could only save one book from utter destruction, what would it be and why?
Perhaps Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine.  It’s one of my favorite books so on a personal level it would be something I’d reach to save.  However if we’re talking about saving a book for future generations and a book that will teach us all something, I suppose that would probably be a history book.  The edition doesn’t matter as long as it’s a history of our world civilization, the things we’ve done, and who we have been as a people.  

B. About the book

1) If The Summer That Everything were a person, what kind of person would it be?
This is a really great question.  I think The Summer that Melted Everything is already a person.  The narrator Fielding Bliss.  When I think of the story and the title, I think of him.An old man trying to ferry the puddles of melt.

2) Who's your favorite character in The Summer That Melted Everything? Who's your least favorite? Why?
It’s hard to say my favorite because I love them all, but one of my favorite characters to write was Sal.  He’s the one come to answer the invitation inviting the devil to town.  Sal is a mystery, even to me, and that type of character is always interesting to write.  My least favorite character would have to be Ryker.  I won’t say why because I don’t want to give any spoilers away, but once readers read the novel they’ll know what I mean when I saw Ryker is such a jerk.    

3) What pushed you to write this story?
The same thing that pushes me to write every story.That creative wheel spinning inside…

4) Do you have a favorite quote/part from the book?
One of my favorite quotes is “The heat came with the devil.”  It’s the opening line of the novel and the first line of the novel that I wrote.  It’s really the line that started everything.  

5) Are any of the characters based on other people?
For me my characters feel very real.  They are their own people and in that they have their own identities.  

C. Rapid fire

1) Coffee or tea? Tea.
2) Sunny days or cloudy ones? I need both sunny days and cloudy days so I'll say both.
3) Romance or Mystery? Mystery.
4) Chris Evans or Chris Hemsworth? Both.
5) Fielding or Sal? Definitely both.

About the Author

An Ohio native, Tiffany McDaniel’s writing is inspired by the rolling hills and buckeye woods of the land she knows.  She is also a poet, playwright, screenwriter, and artist.  The Summer that Melted Everything is her debut novel. 

“Sometimes this world is like red fences in the snow.  There ain’t no hiding who we really are.”—THE SUMMER THAT MELTED EVERYTHING

The Summer That Melted Everything has been nominated for the Man Booker prize this year! You can vote for it HERE, until tomorrow! Also, please do check out Tiffany's website - she has some really awesome paintings!

That's it for this review and interview! Please do follow me (if you want to), for more bookish updates and shenanigans!

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