Thursday, June 23, 2011

Book Review: Invincible Summer by Hannah Moskowitz

First let me say that I adore Hannah Moskowitz.  Break broke my heart (and squigged me out at the same time).  Sometimes I think this woman sees right into my very teenage soul.  I was hesitant to pick up her newest novel.  It's that fear that the Breakout Novelists Breakout Novel will be their One Hit Wonder.  I kept passing it in the Young Adult Contemporary section.  I think I was a tad put off by the cover as I was afraid that somehow Hannah had fallen into the genre of "Contemporary Teens Having Lots of Sex Books."  However, after reading countless Tweets about how wonderful her book was, I  picked up Invincible Summer.  I am so glad that I did.

Invincible Summer is the story of a family.  A quite broken and passive aggressive family.  Sort of resembled my own growing up (though with fewer siblings).  The story is told from Chase's point of view.  Chase is the second born and the second son.  He idolizes his older brother. He puts up with his younger sister.  He absolutely adores his little brother who is deaf. And he shares his birthday with his baby sister.  He loves them all.  He worries about them all and for all different reasons.  Each year this misfit family spends their summers at the beach with their seasonal neighbors, the Hathaways and their three children, Melinda and the twins, Shannon and Bella.  The McGills and the Hathaways.  The Hathaways and the McGills.  Every summer together. Every summer the same. Or at least that was the way it had always been.  But for the four summers of this book, each summer seems jarringly stepped apart from that sameness, held together only by the clever intertwining of Camus's quotes. 

I found myself understanding almost every character in the book at some point in my reading.  I identified with Chase because I always felt like it was my responsibility to worry and care and take care of the members of my family.  It was my duty to keep them all together.  I worked hard at that for many years.  I associated with Noah, the older brother, because I always wanted to run away.  I always wanted to leave.  It was easier to leave and forget than to stay and deal.  I even associated with young Gideon and completely understood how he felt to not be able to be understood even though he was always being heard.   I especially related to Melinda in a big way.  Being a rape survivor and acting out sexually in very unhealthy ways is not uncommon.  Each month for several years I was thankful I didn't get pregnant and when I was older I was even more thankful that I had never picked up any STD's.  I kept thinking if people made love to me then it would void the rape somehow.  I equated consensual sex with making love.  It took me a long time to understand how those things were different.  I hope that Melinda figures that out sooner than I did.

This book made me laugh.  It made me cry. It made me even blush.  It made me cry a whole lot more.  I loved this book and glad that it is part of my collection.  Thank you Hannah for opening your heart and pouring out those words for us so delightfully, so lovingly and so honestly raw.

Currently reading:  Switched by Amanda Hocking

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