Title: The Summer We Came to Life
Author: Deborah Cloyed
Release date: June 2011
Deborah Cloyed's first novel, "The Summer We Came to Life," explores the power friendship, family and love. The powerful and well-crafted story uses a band of compelling characters to drive the plot.
Told from the point of view of Samantha Wheland, a free-spirited nomadic artist, the novel begins in the weeks before she begins a year-long residency in Honduras. She and her two best friends — Isabel and Kendra — are still reeling from the death of their childhood friend, Mina, six months earlier.
Since they were five, the four girls turned women took vacations every summer with Isabel and Kendra's mothers. This summer, Samantha is hesitant to take the trip, because it would be their first without Mina. At the same time, Sam is trying to decide whether or not she should accept the marriage proposal from her French film director boyfriend. Isabel and Kendra are also struggling to cope with their grief, and each face changes to their life's circumstances, which they are trying to resolve.
With the insight and experience shared by Kendra's parents, Isabel's mother and Mina's father, the three remaining friends shape their decisions. Cloyed effectively tells these stories to the reader by at times having it shared in the parent's voice and other times with vivid flashbacks.
Cloyed also creatively keeps a link between the three women and Mina. Before her death, she wrote journals to each friend. Through these journals, Mina continues to have a voice and presence in the story.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the novel is the characters' search for life after death and the ability for the living and the dead to share a link.
Cloyed hit the mark in create both an entertaining and emotional story. "The Summer We Came to Life," shows the importance of the bonds of family — even if that connection is not by blood.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5