Tag Archives: Marriage

Review: Summerlong

Summerlong

Summerlong
By Dean Bakopoulos
(Ecco Press, Hardcover, 9780062321169, June 2015, 368pp.)

The Short of It:

A very dark look at marriage in the midst of a midlife crisis. Heavily laced with tension but so hard to look away.

The Rest of It:

See that cover? Looking at it now, I’d say it hints at the trouble lurking between its pages but I bet a lot of readers picked this one up thinking it was a fun beach read. It is SO not that.

Nope. This one is about a marriage falling apart during a long, hot summer in Iowa. Don has a secret. His failures as a real estate agent have taken their toll and due to the insurmountable debt he’s created, he’s about to lose his home. Claire, aware of their financial troubles but not fully in the know over just how bad it’s gotten, doesn’t take the news all that well and becomes attracted to Charlie, who happens to be in town dealing with some property after his father’s death.

One evening, Don takes a walk in the neighborhood and meets a young woman who goes by the name ABC. She’s young and vibrant but grieving over a loss of her own. She’s working as a caretaker for a pot-smoking pistol of a lady who’s seen a thing or two in her day. ABC invites him in to light up and what seems totally out of character for Don, suddenly becomes a regular thing.

Don and Claire have so many issues. As parents, they find themselves so completely absorbed with their own problems, that they both end up leaving the house one night only to realize the next morning that they left their kids unattended.

Surprisingly, ABC and Charlie also have their own issues to deal with. These four people hook-up with each other, sometimes in surprising combinations but they are all searching for the same thing. Love, acceptance, redemption, peace.

I didn’t like Claire. She’s self-absorbed, bitchy and intent on being miserable. She’s one of THOSE people but sadly, I could relate to some of what she was going through. As Don tries his hardest to make things right, she continues to push him away and I wanted to slap her for it. Yeah, I guess I liked Don a lot.

I really loved this book. It’s dark because it paints such a real picture of a marriage in crisis but in between the crusty bits there’s hope, too. I love how the characters play off of one another. It’s so natural and effortless even though as a reader sometimes I caught myself thinking, “No! Don’t do it!”

Summer is typically a time for lighter, fluffier reads but not for me.  I prefer to sink my teeth into something with a little bite and this book satisfied all my wants.

Source: Sent to me by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: Kitchens of the Great Midwest

Kitchens of the Great Midwest

Kitchens of the Great Midwest
By J. Ryan Stradal
(Pamela Dorman Books, Hardcover, 9780525429142, July 28, 2015, 320pp.)

The Short of It:

Food has a way of bringing people together but in this novel, not only do they come together, but they continually evolve to discover who they really are.

The Rest of It:

Lars Thorvald, a chef, spends his days consumed with the beauty of the bounty before him. His wife Cynthia, an aspiring sommelier, appears to be his perfect match, but when their daughter Eva is born, Cynthia realizes that motherhood is not for her and abandons both her husband and infant daughter to pursue a life elsewhere.

This was a wonderful read. Many have said that it reads like a collection of short stories but I didn’t get that feeling at all. Each chapter is based on an ingredient that becomes very important at the end of the novel, but it lends a certain mystery to the story as new characters are introduced and the pieces begin to come together.

If you are a foodie, you will enjoy this book. Even if you’re not, you will enjoy this book because it’s smart and the characters are a little quirky and flawed but they all meld together to tell a really good story.

It’s about family and friends and really, the pursuit of happiness and whatever your definition of happiness may be.

This is a debut novel for Stradal but you’d never know it while reading it. It’s a delightful read and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Make sure you check out these additional resources:

Fun Resources for your Book Club!

Online Book Club Kit (recipes, wine pairings, playlists!)
Q & A with J. Ryan Stradal

Source: Sent to me by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.