Tuesday, August 9, 2011

One Summer

     I've recently rediscovered our local library, thanks to all the papers I had to write for my English class last semester. I was particularly delighted to find out that part of the fiction section features newly released books. Most of the popular titles are included, and I was ecstatic to find a couple of my favorite authors among them. Thus I was able to read "One Summer", a heartwarming must read from David Baldacci.

     David Baldacci first came to my attention as a spy thriller author, dealing with black ops and intrigues mostly in the world of espionage and counter intelligence. Think James Bond, Jason Bourne and the like. Being a great fan already of his books in this genre, I was surprised to see this book that was definitely different. Out of curiosity, I decided to give it a try.

     The novel revolves around the Armstrong family as they try to pick up the pieces after the devastating loss of Lizzie Armstrong, mother of three and wife to Jack Armstrong. Jack, who is diagnosed with a terminal illness, is thought to be the one to die first. But in a twist of fate, Lizzie dies in a car accident. The children are split up to live with various relatives, while Jack is put in hospice care to wait for his final hours. Miraculously though, he recovers with no trace of the illness that supposedly leaves no survivors until now. This starts the family's journey of finding peace and togetherness again after getting past all the anger and grieving they go through at first.

     I managed to finish the book in one afternoon, and I have to admit I had a box of tissues next to me the whole time. I confess to being one of those people who cry at sad and sappy tv shows, movies and books. This book definitely belongs in this category, along the lines of book adaptations I would expect to see on the Hallmark Movie channel. It was a good novel to read on a lazy afternoon, a nice break from my usual murder mysteries and spy thrillers. In comparison to Baldacci's other books though, I have to say that I prefer his thrillers to this one. It was a good effort, the writing was solid and hooked you right in. I just found it a little hard to believe some parts of the story, some of the actions of some of the characters. They help heighten the drama that takes place for sure, but a closer look makes the reader feel puzzled at how it makes sense. An example is Jack's mother in law Bonnie, who I guess is the main villain.  Her actions for most of the story show her to be angry and spiteful towards Jack. Then at the end she says that she really does love her son in law and harbors no ill feelings. I'm like, what? I guess grief can really make people act in an illogical manner. Another thing I noticed was Baldacci's use of a particular story devise that reminded me of another novel which, coincidentally, also had a character's death as the jumping off point of the plot. The "dying man's letters to his beloved wife" concept is given a different spin in "One Summer", but I didn't really think they added much storywise.  Their value perhaps lie more in their dramatic effect.

     Overall I do recommend including "One Summer" in your reading list. A nice family drama to while away a hot summer day. Don't forget the tissues.

© Margj Castillo, In Review, 2010 - Present.


  1. I think I will like this book. I just don't know if National Bookstore carry it..

  2. i'm sure national will have it pero baka hardbound pa since it's still new. hope you do get to read it!