Friday, 25 March 2011

Invincible Summer by Hannah Moskowitz

Hannah Moskowitz site
Series: n/a
Copy obtained: e-ARC S&S Galley Grab for review
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release date: April 19th
Rating: 5/5

"Noah's happier than I've seen him in months. So I'd be an awful brother to get in the way of that. It's not like I have some relationship with Melinda. It was just a kiss. Am I going to ruin Noah's happiness because of a kiss?"

Across four sun-kissed, drama-drenched summers at his family's beach house, Chase is falling in love, falling in lust, and trying to keep his life from falling apart. But some girls are addictive...

First off, that blurb (taken from Goodreads) is misleading because it implies a heavy romantic focus. That is not the case at all, it's very much a focus on family. I hadn't read Hannah's previous book, Break, when I read the ARC for Invincible Summer, so I wasn't entirely sure what to expect from it. But whatever my vague expectations were, they were not what I got. What I got, was an emotional, heart breaking, kind of strange, and ultimately fantastic read!

Chase is almost 15 at the start of the book, and we join him as he and his siblings are arriving at their beach house as they do each summer. We're introduced to the family, and the next door neighbours who they've been friends with their whole lives. They always spend their summers messing around together. But as Chase is growing up and dealing with more issues, he sees things changing.

Invincible Summer only tells their story over the summers. Once the summer is over and they leave the beach house, it skips forward a year to them arriving the next one, covering 4 summers. It's an interesting choice for telling the story, but it works perfectly. You get told little snippets of Chase's life, and his family, away from the beach house but it's clear how much the place means to him and that he only really seems to feel alive at the beach, his real home as it were. I completely love the strange, screwed up, family dynamics here. Chase has an older brother who's always running away; a younger sister who acts like she's about 30; a younger brother who is deaf which creates it's own issues; and there's the baby sister who their mom is pregnant with at the start of the book. And there are issues with the parents as well. Throw in the friends next door who feature very heavily in Chase's thoughts and world as well, and you get even more interesting events.

No matter what's going on, it's all utterly engrossing and very, very intense. There is the odd laugh out loud moment, and some sweet moments that really made me smile. But a lot of the time I was aching for Chase. So young and so old at the same time. Very lost in many ways, trying to figure out what growing up means and where he fits in his family, how they all fit together. It's heart breaking in it's realness, even with the sometimes strange moments and connections. There are some almost surprisingly deep moments from Chase as well through a philosophy book he discovers and becomes somewhat obsessed with.

I could barely stop reading Invincible Summer once I started. It's intense, beautiful, powerful, gritty and raw. Ultimately heart breaking. I was in floods of tears through the last quarter of the book. It was a refreshing read in many ways, with the focus on family, not romance and with the way it's told as well. The blend of Chase's thoughts, screwed up family and philosophy. I was completely captivated by the narrative and characters. How this one family connected and fell apart through good times and bad. If you like gritty YA's, then this is a must read. It is easily one of my favourite reads of the year so far and one I'd highly recommend. Just amazing!!


Cass (Words on Paper) said...

Sounds like a possible mix between Anna and a YA summer read (maybe Thirty Boy Summer-ish?). Which means AWESOME! I've really wanted to read this, and your review just got me more excited!

Clover said...

Ooh. Not one I'd heard of before, but it's definitely going on my wishlist after this review!!