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The Summer That Melted Everything: A Novel Paperback – July 3, 2017
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The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
WINNER OF THE GUARDIAN'S 2016 "NOT THE BOOKER" PRIZE
“The Summer that Melted Everything is inventive and provocative…a meaty and relentlessly good story.” ―Bookreporter.com
“A haunting Appalachian Gothic novel that calls into question the nature of good and evil.” ―Akron Beacon Journal
“When word gets out that the devil may be in Breathed, tensions and temperatures will rise, and soon the town will find itself enveloped in full-blown hysteria. A fantastic Jackson-esque debut about rumors, fears, and beliefs.” ―BookRiot
“This debut novel shines with beauty and lyricism. . . Give this to fans of atmospheric fiction, particularly those who enjoy the grit of Donald Ray Pollock, the foreshadowing of Shirley Jackson, and the mounting suspense of Peter Straub.” ―Library Journal
“[McDaniel] is capable of stirring powerful emotions...an ambitious novel that will invite thought and surely spark discussion.” ―Booklist
“Tiffany McDaniel’s The Summer That Melted Everything is a wonderfully original, profoundly unsettling, deeply moving novel that delivers both the shock of fully realized reality and the deep resonance of parable. This is remarkable debut by a splendid young writer.”―Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize winning author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain
“In this bold and surprising debut novel, Tiffany McDaniel reveals a new voice in contemporary fiction. At times comic, at times heartbreaking, The Summer That Melted Everything, moves between the future and the past, and gives us a window on a particular time, the hell-hot summer of 1984, and a group of characters George Orwell could not have imagined. In this world nothing is quite what it seems, as mystery and revelation alternate, right up to the end. At times surreal, magical, this story of a family and community incorporates global warming, AIDS, discrimination, fear, mass hysteria, lynching, and martyrdom, but in the end is a love story, warning us not to be too quick in judging what is evil and what is good.” ―Robert Morgan, New York Times bestselling author of Gap Creek
“Sometimes there is a novel so strange and beguiling it makes you give up your world for another world, all the while that you are reading it. Such a story is Tiffany McDaniel’s tale of an enchanted boy―who might be the devil―welcomed into a family with no right to their name, Bliss. It will frighten you, and charm you, and break your heart if you allow it . . . and you will allow it, because once this world has hold of you, it won’t let you go.” ―Jacquelyn Mitchard, New York Times bestselling author The Deep End of the Ocean and Two if by Sea
“Tiffany McDaniel’s brilliant literary debut is a feast for the mind. Her gifted language and stunning story craft shine a bright light on human nature as she examines the face of good and evil. I enjoyed every single word.” ―Susan Crandall, bestselling author of Whistling Past the Graveyard
“Sometimes a book comes along that is so good that it defies all descriptions, but I'll give it a shot anyway: Tiffany McDaniel's astounding and heartbreaking The Summer That Melted Everything reads as if Carson McCullers and Shirley Jackson got together with Nathaniel Hawthorne in some celestial backwater and decided to write the first truly great gothic coming-of-age novel of the twenty-first century. There, I said it. Now read it.” ―Donald Ray Pollock, author of Knockemstiff and The Devil All the Time
“It is rare that a narrative makes me question my own beliefs. This book did that very thing. A fine story with a message about truth, trust, family, and the dangers of the devils among us.” – Suzanne Palmieri, author of The Witch of Bourbon Street
“The Summer That Melted Everything is a blast of hellfire, humor, and heartbreak that’s part Flannery O’Connor, part Stephen King, and wholly original.” ―Lou Berney, author of The Long and Faraway Gone
“A wondrous debut of a novel. Imagine To Kill a Mockingbird, seen through the eyes of Neil Gaiman. McDaniel’s prose is rich and magical, full of passages of exquisite, strange beauty that ache with bitter truths and old sorrows. You'll not read anything else like it.” ―James Sie, author of Still Life Las Vegas
About the Author
Tiffany McDaniel is an Ohio native whose writing is inspired by the rolling hills and buckeye woods of the land she knows. She is the winner of The Guardian's 2016 "Not-the-Booker Prize" for The Summer that Melted Everything. The novel was also a Goodreads Choice Award double nominee in both fiction and debut categories, a current nominee for the Lillian Smith Book Award, and has recently been announced as a finalist for the Ohioana Literary Award and the Women's Fiction Writers Association Star Award for Outstanding Debut.
Top customer reviews
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You can tell the author has a background in poetry because of her frequent employment of synesthesia and generally how thought provoking her descriptive language is. Normally I have a hard time with novels that have little action and excessive description, but there's plenty of action, and the more descriptive passages are always peculiar in terms of language and really make you think.
This novel reads a bit to me like a Modern American novel with a bit of the boyish light-heartedness and racial dynamic of Huck Finn, until it absolutely doesn't. Be prepared; this book will drop some powerful bombs on you that really leave you in shock. The content gets very heavy. It will have you grappling with questions of faith and of right and wrong.
The last thing I appreciate most about this novel is the closed ending. Open ended stories, while they can be necessary and well written, I often believe they're a writer's lazy way out. This novel wraps wraps itself up beautifully, shockingly, and sorrowfully, addressing what's become of each notable character. The ending is chaos, but satisfyingly written nonetheless.
I'm hooked on McDaniel now, and I look forward to reading further fiction of hers.
Pros: It is beautiful at times. The tale is unique. Characters are complex and interesting. It is morally complicated, encompassing a variety of problems. It will break your heart. It is truly thought provoking. It reminds me of To Kill A Mockingbird and Catcher In The Rye.
Cons: The language is wordy and somewhat odd at times (resembling a folk type of tone). Many times I found myself re-reading in order to understand what was going on. Some parts drag on and can become boring. The sequence of events deviates between realistic to down right bizarre.
The Summer that Melted Everything is what To Kill a Mockingbird would be if it was written as a work of magical realism/allegory. I am always drawn to "controversial" books, and in most instances most of my GR friends have either loved/hated this debut novel. I realize that it's not perfect, there were too many things going on at once and sometimes the sentences were incredibly beautiful, but had no real meaning, but overall I loved it. I cherished the poetic writing, the imaginative descriptions, the idea behind the story and the feelings evoked in me. For me this story is about our expectations of things - what do we expect evil to look like, what expectations do we have of the people we love, and of ourselves - and what happens when these don't align to reality. This is a very dark and upsetting novel, but for me it was definitely worth it - I got lost in the writing, felt for the characters (especially Grand and Sal), and realized once more that we should try and go into everything with an open mind.
The Story: In 1984 in the small Ohio town of Breathed, the devil accepts an invitation to visit. Arriving in the form of a thirteen year old boy, Sal is accompanied by a devastating heat wave and a trail of suspicion..