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What Dies in Summer: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Tom Wright
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)

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Book Description

“A beautifully written and deeply engaging study of loss and innocence, suffused with chilling dread. A haunting novel, a captivating debut; I loved it.”—S. J. Watson, author of Before I Go to Sleep


“I did what I did, and that’s on me.” From that tantalizing first sentence, Tom Wright sweeps us up in a tale of lost innocence. Jim has a touch of the Sight. It’s nothing too spooky and generally useless, at least until the summer his cousin L.A. moves in with him and their grandmother. When Jim and L.A. discover the body of a girl, brutally raped and murdered in a field, an investigation begins that will put both their lives in danger. In the spirit of The Lovely Bones and The Little Friend, What Dies in Summer is a novel that casts its spell on the very first page and leaves an indelible mark.


Editorial Reviews

Review

''A beautifully written and deeply engaging study of loss and innocence, suffused with chilling dread. A haunting novel, a captivating debut; I loved it.'' --S. J. Watson, New York Times bestselling author

''A compulsive and provocative novel, Tom Wright manages to combine familiar themes of youth -- fear, desire, vulnerability, and chaos -- with a story that both unsettles and intrigues the reader. A narrative voice that's raw and desperate, a story that grips from start to finish, What Dies in Summer is hugely impressive.'' --John Boyne, New York Times bestselling author

''A magnificent novel, not so much about loss of innocence as innocence put through the masher. The story pulsates with a deep dread that would be unbearable if the novel weren't so sweet, funny, sexy, and ultimately moving.'' --Nick Cave, author of The Death of Bunny Munro

''An erotic, compelling, and deeply assured debut, midway between Ellroy and Faulkner. It evokes so precisely the beauty and sadness of first love and lost innocence.'' --Sam Taylor, author of The Amnesiac

Review

An erotic, compelling and deeply assured debut, midway between Ellroy and Faulkner. It evokes so precisely the beauty and sadness of first love and lost innocence. - Sam Taylor, author of The Republic of Trees

Product Details

  • File Size: 652 KB
  • Print Length: 289 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0393064026
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (June 4, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007HXFD7S
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #487,075 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
Set in Texas in an era when Elvis is King, this coming-of-age novel is filled with the angst of a young man at odds with his history over a long summer when his cousin comes to live with him and his grandmother. Both young people have escaped their nuclear families, Jim (nicknamed Biscuit) from an abusive stepfather, Lee Ann (L.A.) from a situation she refuses to talk about. Only children, but cousins as close as siblings, Jim and L.A. fall into familiar rhythms under Gram's roof, both of their mothers, Leah and Rachel, given to excessive drinking, unpredictable behavior and unsavory men. Given her behavior since arriving, isolating and burrowing under mountains of pillows before she can fall asleep at night, Jim suspects that L.A. has suffered some kind of abuse. With Gram as their moral centerpiece, these bright young protagonists remind me of adolescent versions of the boy and girl in "The Night of the Hunter", seeking safety and security with a woman who will never betray them.

Ranging over vacant lots and stream beds collecting bottles, a freedom encouraged by Gram, Jim and L.A. encounters an unsavory ex-con, a man L.A. cleverly outwits when his ill intentions become evident. More disturbing is their discovery of a teenaged girl's naked and mutilated body near the tracks. This is a turning point for everyone as Wright ratchets up a sense of imminent danger that pervades the rest of the novel, L.A. potentially in the sights of a man who has claimed more than one victim in this sleepy Texas suburb. The author balances Jim's growing fascination with the physical aspects of his romance with his girlfriend and the burdens of manhood, the need to protect the females in the household from danger, his gift, "a touch of the sight", bringing vivid dreams and a consciousness of lurking menace.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful, deftly handled Southern Gothic August 22, 2012
Format:Hardcover
Sometimes I wonder why we all do this - review books, I mean. All these opinions floating out there in the ether. Do they help people find books to read? Do books that deserve to sell really sell more if we say we liked them? Fortunately, whenever I start wondering that too much a book like What Dies in Summer comes along and I remember why I do this - I like blathering about books and I really like it when I find a debut author who impresses me.

What Dies in Summeralmost immediately reminded me of North Toward Home, Willie Morris' wonderful memoir about growing up in the South and being an expatriate of the South in that scary place we call "the North." It reads much as Morris' memoir with a slow easy cadence that carries you along. For me it also helped that it's set in the Oak Cliff neighborhood in Dallas where I spent some time as a teenager. There's something warm and comforting about familiar settings.

Once I settled into this groove, a fictional memory, a novel about the loss of innocence, the hero's journey, and so on, the author twisted his gentle cadence down a surprising road filled with rape, murder, and despair, but redeemed in the end by the love of family. There is so much beauty in this book as our hero (Jim) and his cousin (L.A.) seek out better lives with their grandmother, their own homes being far too dangerous to live in. Things are, of course, complicated in many ways and there is so much brutality lying just underneath the surface that there are moments when you fear it will come up from under the the water even as you see its shadow approaching. Mr. Wright handles this with a deft hand telling a sad, desperate, wistful, and ultimately hopeful story of truth speaking and redemption. Great debut - highly recommended.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
With a down-to-earth writing style and in-depth human insight, this page-turning crime fiction novel is a quintessential summer read for those who like dark paranormal twists and a Southern Gothic flavor to their novels.

About: In a Southern town during the early 1970’s, a young teenage boy named Jim (aka Biscuit) lives with his grandmother after his stepfather has beaten him badly enough to leave him in the hospital; and it’s not the first time. When his cousin L.A. comes to live with them, because she too is being abused, a common bond and familial friendship is created.

What is special about Biscuit is that besides being unusually introspective for his age, he has a touch of “the sight” and sees glimpses of things in dreams and otherwise that others cannot. It’s all looked at as part of his heritage since the gift runs in the family, with L.A. and his grandmother possessing their own version of knowing.

When Biscuit and L.A. find a mutilated teenage girl’s body near the train tracks, there begins the discovery of a series of murders - all by a twisted serial killer who is profiled as a member of their community.

Thoughts: I really enjoyed this novel. Tom Wright has an interesting writing style that is both descriptive and unusual. In giving Biscuit his voice he has created a wonderful character. The boy narrates his story with a youthful southern drawl and local colloquialism that makes the read a special one; it gives the story a realistic and grounded feeling. I felt like Biscuit’s thoughts about life and growing up were reflective and respectable for a growing young man on the verge of adulthood. I liked that a lot.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Haven't finished it yet
Published 3 months ago by carolyn bulgarelli
2.0 out of 5 stars Wasting my time?
I'm 2/3 into the book and I'm bored to tears with the rambling. I hang in there because I believe this story has great potential with intriguing issues peppered into the plot. Read more
Published 6 months ago by MilosMom
3.0 out of 5 stars Tangled story line, characters not all defined. Not ...
Tangled story line,characters not all defined. Not much to keep my interest with occasional reading times.
Published 8 months ago by Dorothy Stewart
3.0 out of 5 stars Two 1/2 stars
As noted in other reviews, this is not really a mystery as much as a coming-of-age story. There is a LOT of family dysfunction here, too much to be quite believable.... Read more
Published 13 months ago by RueRue
5.0 out of 5 stars Readable, engrossing and insightful
I enjoyed this book very much. It is exceptionally well written for a first novel and it held me engrossed throughout. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Sid Nuncius
5.0 out of 5 stars unusual
I chose 5 stars because the book is well-written, and the times were portrayed very well. Little scary, at how well.
Published 16 months ago by Sarah Richardson
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read
Nice summer read. Funny and engaging and heartwarming. Has elements of a supernatural thriller, mystery, and a coming-of-age story all combined. Read more
Published 19 months ago by lavonne buckle
5.0 out of 5 stars A good story, well written
the author captures the feel of coming of age in the 60's, could have been any family I knew. I was a bit disappointed with the ending, but it was still worth the read.
Published 21 months ago by Linda Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Crime Writers Assn. Dagger Award Nominee
What Dies in Summer is the first of four novels completed by Dr. Tom Wright, a polymath who lives and serves his patients in the Four States region of the U.S. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Dr. Thomas
5.0 out of 5 stars A gem of a book!
This book is a real pleasure to read. Tom Wright has created a wonderful coming-of-age story about two teeanagers who have both escaped bad family situations by coming to live... Read more
Published on March 20, 2013 by H. Bond
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