Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Book Review: The Summer Son

 The Summer Son by Craig Lancaster, is about a man, Mitch Quillen, who decides he must settle things from his past in order to save his future. To do that, he’ll have to go back to confront his father and, if not make peace, then at least understand and accept the man that he ran away from.

Here is the back cover blurb:
When Mitch Quillen’s life begins to unravel, he fears there is no escape. His marriage and his career are both failing, and his relationship with his father has been a disaster for decades. Approaching forty, Mitch doesn’t want to become a middle-aged statistic. When his estranged father, Jim, suddenly calls, Mitch’s wife urges him to respond. Ready for a change, Mitch heads to Montana and a showdown that will alter the course of his life. Amid a backdrop of rugged peaks, and valleys, the story unfolds: a violent episode that triggered the rift, thirty years of miscommunication, and the possibility of misplaced blame.
The Summer Son is one of those books you might describe as an “onion.” It has many layers and bit by bit, the layers are peeled away down to the heart of the story.

Jim, the father in the story, is at times so closed off, so hurtful and angry, that I often wished Mitch would just leave. And yet, Mitch is no saint either. He knows how to push his father’s buttons. Over the course of the book, many secrets are revealed. The truth as Mitch knew it changes. And Mitch changes as he comes to understand not only his father, but the child Mitch used to be.

The Summer Son
Published by AmazonEncore
Release Date: January 2011
ISBN-13: 9781935597247
ISBN-10: 1935597248

I give The Summer Son by Craig Lancaster a Hel-Yeah! 
(Come back tomorrow when Craig will be here on Straight From Hel to talk about writing two books in twenty months. And...he's giving away a copy of his book to a lucky commenter.)
FTC Disclaimer: The Summer Son was sent to me by Sarah Tomashek, Senior Marketing Manager, at AmazonEncore. This in no way influenced my review of the book. As I read the book, I wondered how many of us had such idyllic childhoods that there is nothing we would want to go back and talk to our parents about. And how many of us would be brave enough or tortured enough to do so, given the chance. If we did, would the experience be cathartic or would it only rip open old wounds to the point they could not heal over? This is not an easy book to read, especially if you have unresolved issues with your parents. It is however a reminder that a mother or a father was not born to that role. They were children at one time. They have had a life full of ups and downs, love and sadness, pain and joy. And whether you like it or not, they will always be a part of you.


  1. Sounds like a book with a lot of depth to it. The subject matter sounds interesting, though...and it's a good point to remember that our parents weren't born experts at parenting, but were children themselves. Thanks for the recommendation!

  2. If the book is as enlightening as the disclaimer. it should be a runaway hit.

  3. Elizabeth, it certainly took me a while to comprehend that my parents weren't born parents, but were just like me, figuring things out as they went along.

    Hopefully, it will be a hit with readers, Mary.

  4. Going back would be hard. Writing about the experience (albeit even fictional) would be harder. Kudos to Craig Lancaster.

  5. One thing about Craig's main character is that, like all of us, he learns as the story develops. He changes. In the book world, you'd say he has an arc. We learn along with him.

  6. I always enjoy a family drama. There's such intrigue in a family's dynamics, and the way the members interact and play off one another. Sounds like a good read to settle in with this cold January.

  7. Thanks, everyone, and thanks, Helen, for reviewing my book.

    Helen mentioned the uncomfortable moments of reading the story, and I'm glad she did. What I want, more than anything else, is to give readers an emotional experience that resonates with them. And this sometimes means frustrating them or making them angry -- not with the quality of the writing or storytelling, but in a way that comes from being invested in the characters.

    I know how much I value that in the books I read.

  8. Those books that challenge you, make you laugh out loud, make you think or cry, that make you squirm or ponder...those are the ones you remember.

  9. "...a reminder that a mother or a father was not born to that role. They were children at one time. They have had a life full of ups and downs, love and sadness, pain and joy. And whether you like it or not, they will always be a part of you."

    Very true, Helen. Enjoyed your take on this book. I'll try to stop by tomorrow and say howdy.

  10. Do come back, Sia. This book did make me think about my own parents.

  11. I really enjoy books with strong character arcs, so it sounds like I'd really like this book. I must check it out -- thanks, Helen.

  12. I read Craig's first book, 600 Hours of Edward, and it was a wonderful book. I know I will enjoy this one, too -- I just wish there was time enough to read all the books I want to.

  13. A book that shows the strengths and the weaknesses of the characters is almost always great. Thanks for sharing.
    N. R. Williams, fantasy author

  14. This sounds like a rich and rewarding book to read. I was lucky to be one of those with a good relationship with stable, loving parents. I wish everyone could say the same.

  15. It wasn't sad, Alex. I didn't mean it to sound that way.

  16. It sounds like something I would enjoy reading. Thanks for sharing, Helen.

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  18. I love to hear success stories, too. And, I love the title, 600 Hours of Edward, that's great. The blurb sounds great, too. What an incredible 20 months. What a great life!! The internet really is changing the way we read, whether we want it to or not. In this case, it's a definite win.


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