Author: Rachel Hauck
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: June 27, 2023
Publisher: Bethany House
Twenty years ago, the summer of '77 was supposed to be the best summer of Summer Wilde's life. She and her best friends, Spring, Autumn, and Snow--the Four Seasons--had big plans.
But those plans never had a chance. After a teenage prank gone awry, the Seasons found themselves on a bus to Tumbleweed, "Nowhere," Oklahoma, to spend eight weeks as camp counselors. All four of them arrived with hidden secrets and buried fears, and the events that unfolded in those two months forever altered their friendships, their lives, and their futures.
Now, thirtysomething, Summer is at a crossroads. When her latest girl band leaves her in a motel outside Tulsa, she is forced to face the shadows of her past. Returning to the place where everything changed, she soon learns Tumbleweed is more than a town she never wanted to see again. It's a place for healing, for reconciling the past with the present, and for finally listening to love's voice.
Reviewer: Tammy Lunsford
This book is rich with every emotion you can think of, including sadness, betrayal, happiness, and pure glee at times. I felt every emotion of these characters on their journey of self-discovery. It was thought-provoking, and the characters were real to me. Rachel Hauck has a special talent for making her characters jump off the page. I will caution you that you will need to have tissues handy while reading this heartfelt story.
The year is 1977, and four young girls, who have been friends since grade school, have dreams and plans to stay together forever. They have great plans for the summer to make this the best summer of their lives. While visiting FSU (where they plan to attend college together), a little prank turns into a critical situation, and the girls are punished. So instead of backpacking through Europe, they find themselves on a bus headed to Tumbleweed, Oklahoma, to serve as camp counselors for the summer.
These girls are known as the Four Seasons, as their names are Summer, Spring, Autumn, and Margaret Snowden (better known as Snow). This is their story of the summer that changed their lives forever. Each chapter is told from the viewpoint of one of the girls, and it goes back and forth from 1977 to 1997. Even though the book goes back and forth between characters and years, the writing flows easily, and I had no problem keeping up with where we were and who we were talking about.
I could relate so well to these characters because of having a group of friends in high school that you plan to be friends with forever. The characters were so different, but their differences made their friendship stronger. The plot line was heart-stirring and rich with spiritual encounters that will give you goosebumps. It was, in my opinion, a beautifully written story rooted in redemption and hope with a wonderful inspirational message. I had tears running down my face in several parts of this book because the characters' emotions were so raw and real. You will fully enjoy this book if you want a good beach read and don't mind an emotional landmine.
Thank you to Bethany House for a courtesy copy of this book through Interviews and Reviews. I am leaving this review voluntarily.
Reviewer: Mindy Houng
"Two friends became insular. Three, a triangle, which led to someone being left out. Four friends created a square that could contain the drama and dynamics of four young women. Remove one, and the square collapsed."
Rachel Hauck has woven a beautifully nostalgic and redemptive story of four childhood-to-high school best friends from the summer of 1977 to the 'present day' of 1997. Their conversations and interactions are authentic and real. How they create a summer camp experience for younger girls is fabulous. Yet, secrets abound that affect the four friends' lives permanently. This book is a good summer read filled with heart-warming events, shocking secrets, and their consequences. Heartbreak, grief, regrets, and supernatural encounters will make you reminisce about your own friendships of old.
Having been a part of the four-best friends square in high school myself, I totally empathized with the dynamics of their friendship. It was somewhat difficult to keep the four friends straight initially, especially with the shifts from 1997 to 1977 and each chapter centering on one time period and one girl. I couldn't keep their individual personalities and backstories straight until about 60% into the story.
I had a hard time fully connecting with Summer, the book's main character. Her 1977 eighteen-year-old self was rebellious, selfish, insecure, and obnoxious, while her 1997 version was pitiful and still selfish. Her salvation story in 1977 was eventful, though, and her 1997 redemption and healing journey was quite fulfilling and emotional. Though I didn't connect with Summer, others may empathize and sympathize with her.
Spring had the next largest voice in both timelines, and her conquering of fear and shame was admirable. I wish Autumn and Snow had bigger voices and Levi and Mal from 1977 and 1997 had more presence because I liked these characters.
I received a complimentary copy from Bethany House via Interview & Reviews. I was under no obligation to post a positive comment. All opinions are my own.
Reviewer: Conny Withay
“It will take a reckoning with her past and the friends she lost to help her gain the closure she needs to move forward,” the back jacket states in Rachel Hauck’s novel, The Best Summer of Our Lives.
This three-hundred-and-eighty-four-page advance reader copy targets those interested in contemporary Christian romance involving four best friends who take different routes in their adult lives. With slang words such as darn, crap, heck, and hell, topics of alcohol use, premarital sex, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. The ending includes an author’s note, acknowledgments, ten discussion questions, the author’s biography, and advertisements.
In this tale that jumps back and forth from the late 1970s to twenty years later, four bestie teenagers who call themselves the Four Seasons have graduated from high school and are required to be counselors at Camp Tumbleweed in Oklahoma. There is the bossy, self-absorbed Summer, who wants to be a professional singer. The serious, intelligent Spring is focused on always doing what is right. Autumn, who is hurting from the loss of her love and seems to be drowning in life, and Snow, who wishes she were someone else. As the four face adulthood, their emotions, female hormones, and insecurities collide when their secrets are uncovered.
I enjoy stories that blend the past with the present and how important decisions, both good and bad, shape lives. The relationships between the four girls were honest yet raw at times. The younger but wiser Season had the maturest viewpoints while the others fluctuated when in the thick of making decisions. I appreciated some of the girls were trusting God for guidance. I liked that each chapter title was an iconic song from that generation.
Those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ may not like this story. Some may tire of the female drama, boy craziness, and emotional angst, especially during their fights. I did not care for the spiritual visions as they seemed incomplete and confusing, never stating that Jesus died on the cross for our sins. Male readers may have no interest in the book.
With many characters and their families mentioned, a list of who is who at the beginning would be helpful. I had to keep backtracking to remember each’s background and history. Since I only read Christian fiction, I prefer no slang words.
If you like a coming-of-age story involving four best girlfriends whose relationship became seasonal when transitioning to adulthood, this is a nice read, especially if you were raised in that era.
Thanks to Bethany House and Interviews & Reviews for this complimentary book. I am under no obligation to give a positive review.
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