Friday, September 23, 2011

Book Review: ONE SUMMER by David Baldacci

ONE SUMMER by David Baldacci - Book Synopsis:

It's almost Christmas, but there is no joy in the house of terminally ill Jack and his family. With only a short time left to live, he spends his last days preparing to say goodbye to his devoted wife, Lizzie, and their three children. Then, unthinkably, tragedy strikes again: Lizzie is killed in a car accident. With no one able to care for them, the children are separated from each other and sent to live with family members around the country. Just when all seems lost, Jack begins to recover in a miraculous turn of events. He rises from what should have been his deathbed, determined to bring his fractured family back together. Struggling to rebuild their lives after Lizzie's death, he reunites everyone at Lizzie's childhood home on the oceanfront in South Carolina. And there, over one unforgettable summer, Jack will begin to learn to love again, and he and his children will learn how to become a family once more.

What Heather Says:

I have been a fan of David Baldacci since I happened to pick up TOTAL CONTROL in an airport right before moving to Charlottesville, VA, where the book essentially takes place. Baldacci had me hooked, and I've been a fan ever since. I've met him at several of his book signings, and he's an incredibly likeable guy and an engaging speaker.

As an author in the women's lit genre, I was really happy to see Baldacci expose his softer side with ONE SUMMER - the side I knew was there from having met him all those times.

Jack Armstrong is on his deathbed doing the unthinkable - saying goodbye to his family as he counts his last breaths. Jack's goodbyes are in the form of the love letters he writes to his wife, Lizzie, handling the emotional turbulence of each of his three children who run the gamete of too young, still innocent, and hardened teenager, and coping with in-laws whom you want to hate, but you almost can't.

The tragic event of Lizzie's sudden death shocks them to the core and the unexpected recovery of Jack creates a new reality for the Armstrong family beyond the realm of what any of them could have expected. I found Jack to be much like Baldacci himself - a likeable guy whom you want only the best for. As Jack rebuilds his life from his deathbed to now raising three children as a widower, they uproot and move to South Carolina to begin anew. The relationship with his daughter, Mikki, becomes the foundation of the story. Yet, each side story - Jack's new and tentative love interest and Mikki's adaptation to southern living - weave back and forth, while stitching their own relationship back together. The in-laws remain a force throughout the book, and the mother-in-law is someone you want to hate, but just can't. There are several characters, including Jack's best friend and the new friends of Mikki, who add depth to their characters by virtue of their interactions. Young adults would enjoy this book just as much as adults due to the many high school characters that come into play.

I very much enjoyed ONE SUMMER and hope that Baldacci continues to write in this genre. I think a lot of the feedback I've seen for this book stems more from people not being used to him writing in this genre than it does from a fair criticism of the book itself.

I don't rate books on a star system because I think that's like rating people on a scale of 1 to 10 and beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Therefore, I will simply say that I loved this book and highly recommend it.


Heather Hummel,The Gypsy Writer, is the author of the Journals from the Heart Series featuring Whispers from the Heart and Write from the Heart.

Her nonfiction titles include:

GO BIKE & Other Signs from the Universe  (PathBinder, 2011)
Gracefully Looking and Being Your Best at Any Age (McGraw-Hill, 2008)

Heather's books have appeared in newspapers such as: Publishers Weekly, USA Today and the Washington Post; and in magazines that include: Body & Soul, First, and Spry Living, a combined circulation of nearly 15 million. Visit Heather's website at


Wendy Reis Proofreading and Editing said...

Sounds intense, and vaguely familiar. My childhood was a trifle different, but similar. This review evokes a flood of memories.

Samantha said...

Sounds like a great read!