Lynne Griffin knows women and she knows families, a knowledge I’m sure she puts to good use in her work as a family therapist, and which has enabled her to write a compelling and satisfying tale of two mothers coping with the most devastating of all losses.
Tessa Gray’s four year old daughter has been killed by a hit and run driver whom the police have all but given up finding. Grief stricken, she seeks help from Celia Reed, a grief counselor, who advises her to begin writing her feelings in a journal. As she does, her determination to find the person responsible for her daughter’s death develops into a fully realized plan, which she maps out in writing along with her memories of her daughter.
For Celia, her new patient’s grief has re-awakened similar emotions she thought long buried, and forces her to face some major dilemmas in her own life – namely her troubled teenage son, the fragile relationship with her new husband, and her feelings for her alcoholic ex-husband.
The author very cleverly intertwines the two women’s stories structurally as well as thematically. The book is written in epistolary style, alternating with each characters journal entries. Their voices are very unique, so keeping the characters straight is never difficult. Suspense builds along with a sense of connection to the characters, making for a compelling, page-turning read, which leads to a satisfying conclusion.
Life Without Summer is an enticing portrait of two women and their families. Books like Life Without Summer aren’t too common in a graduate online PhD education or top-notch English program, but it doesn’t mean its not a mature piece of art. It’s also a well realized look at the manner in which people cope with devastating loss, and the toll such loss can take on relationships and family life. After reading it, I’m eagerly anticipating Griffin’s newest novel, Sea Escape, which I’ll be reviewing for TLC Tours on July 12, 2010.
by Lynne Griffin
published by St. Martin’s Press, 2009