Thursday 17 March 2016

Reviewed: One Summer Night by Emily Bold

One Summer Night was published by Bonnier on February 25, 2016.

Thanks to Emily at Bonnier for sending me a copy of this book to review.

I was immediately drawn to One Summer Night by Emily Bold. The cover looks bright and uplifting whereas the blurb tells a much sadder story, so I was intrigued about how exactly the story inside would unfold. Now I’ve read the book, I think that the contrasting cover and blurb perfectly represent the mix of emotions I was feeling with every page. The main character may have a terminal illness, and the author’s writing doesn’t skirt around the harsh realities of living with such an illness but at the same time, the storytelling allows us that little bit of a smile throughout.

It was the author’s storytelling that really made this book stand out for me. Instead of being written in set-out chapters, it’s written in memories. The main character Lauren, who has a brain tumour that is killing her, has gathered all her friends and family together as a kind-of celebration of life. Their chats bring up memories from the past and thoughts which then lead them on to other things to look back on and that’s how the book is told.

It was a distinctive way of telling the story and I wasn’t sure how long it would last before becoming repetitive or leaving me craving chapters and a change in time. But actually that moment never came because Emily expertly drew me into the story, building my connection with the characters and creating some form of misguided optimism within me because you don’t want the characters to come to the harm they’re set up to face.

Though there are several character, the book for the most part revolves around the couple of Lauren and Tim and their two daughters, Alyssa and her older sister Mia. I loved this family and found it sad considering how they would cope without Lauren. This book definitely moved me to tears on a few occasions, mostly down to this sweet family who appeared so perfect that it was unfair how life was trying to knock them down. But despite that, some of my favourite moments of One Summer Night were the memories that brought together and made this family – the way Lauren and Tim met and their daughters contrasting moments of being sweet and innocent to being older and a fair bit stroppier but realistic nonetheless.

Everything about this book was realistic in fact and that’s what made it such a tearjerker. Having faced a similar situation, the representation of a terminal illness and how that impacts on far more than simply the person with it was spot on and admittedly at times for me a bit too uncomfortable to read. I had to put it down a few times because of all the emotions but I was always going to pick it back up again too because it was beautifully told in such an engaging format.

As I got further into the story, I became more invested in the lives of all the characters and I felt for them through all the emotions and the questions they had about why this had to happen to Lauren. I found myself asking the same questions too because Lauren had this gorgeous little family set up and she was obviously much-loved, which made it even harder to face because she had so many friends who would miss her when the worst happened.

I know I haven’t made One Summer Night out to sound like the happiest book in the world – so sorry, but it isn’t! That doesn’t make it anything but the moving, highly emotional and absorbing novel that it is and if you’re anything like me, you will feel a whirlwind of different emotions, laugh and cry along with the characters and ultimately feel the need to grab life with both hands because you just never know… Emily Bold has written a heart-breakingly good book with honest, true to life emotion and it’s a story that will stay with me for a long time to come.

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