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....
Paperback, 336 pages
Expected publication: April 19th 2011 by Simon Pulse
Oh holy crap. Like, really. This is a fantastic book. For anyone. To quote the book itself, I love it love it love it.
How I got it: I received a digital copy of this on Galley Grab, so I have nothing to share with you people. If I did, trust me, I'd be giving it away in a heartbeat so someone else I can experience this awesomeness.
Cover: I'm going to admit, I played the "Which end is which?" game the first time I saw it. Once my mind was able to put it together, I haven't had any trouble with it. In fact, when I tried to see it the other way, it took a lot of work to see how I got it wrong again. About halfway through I was questioning the choice of gender being that our narrator is a teenage boy, but by the end of the book, I have a way better understanding and like it. The bikini is a good choice, and the ambiguity of the girl works well. And I simply adore the font choice. Love it love it love it.
Plot: The situations Moskowitz comes up with. Wow. The story is told through four different summers at a beach house that this one family goes to every year, next door to another family that does the same next door. Chase, our narrator, is dealing with being the second eldest, but acting like the first born. He's trying to keep a hold of his family, which seems to be slowly splitting apart, and trying to watch out for his little brother, who's deaf. But at the same time, he's grappling with growing up himself and what that means, and trying to understand his older brother.
This is a contemporary novel, so it's not like there is necessarily anything the novel is pushing toward (like a character searching for the Holy Grail, or something), but that doesn't take away from the book at all. I sat down one night to read just a bit, but I couldn't stop myself. Everything flows amazingly well, even when we are missing out on the largest parts of these people's lives.
Each summer is its own arch, with a beginning middle and end, but they are all seamlessly connected. Things happen in this novel, characters do things and there are consequences. That's sometimes my biggest problem with contemporary fiction. I definitely didn't have that problem with this book.
Characters: These characters are fantastic. All of them are so well rounded. Chase is a fantastic narrator: watchful, understanding but not necessarily fully, slightly unsure. I loved looking at the world though his eyes. All of Chase's siblings are each their own person. I especially liked Noah, the older brother who has a tendency to run away and can't be contained, and Claudia, the little firecracker who acts beyond her years. My only critique here would be the parents weren't quite as fleshed out as the children, but there were definitely enough moments with both to make them not cookie-cutter or stereotypical.
Writing: I said it before and I'll say it again - this girl can write. Wow. I would quote - I really would - but my copy tells me that I'm not allowed to, so I can't. But know that I really want to. Moskowitz has a very lyrical style, and every word has its place. There aren't any frivolous words in this book. Because of that, however, there is a lot packed into every sentence and it can get a little heavy if you aren't into that. But I am. She describes things in interesting and new ways that are fresh and exciting. For instance, she actually says a mind is purple. I'm not 100 percent sure what that means, but in the moment, it worked so well. Also, the writing style mirrors the mental state of our narrator, like a gorgeous dance. It's really something to marvel at.
(On a side note, her writing really made me realize that I'm going to have to step up my game if I want to be anywhere near as good. But inspiration and a goal are good things.)
Themes: The themes unravel themselves slowly, so I didn't really get the full extent of them until the end. This is a story of innocence, of losing and protecting it. During the last 50 pages or so, there was a knot in my stomach feeling what these characters were going through.
Siblings and families are also a very big theme in this novel. While I have a brother, we aren't close like the siblings are in this book. It was interesting to see how the family interacts with each other, when they get along and when they don't. And also how communication theme works itself into the family dynamic.
I will admit that Camus is a huge presence in this novel, and after a little bit it did start to get a little annoying (but I'm like Claudia and philosophy isn't really my thing). However, by the end of the book, I'd come to an understanding with it, enjoyed it even. And anyone that can make me enjoy philosophy is nearly performing miracles.
Overall: Overall, I loved this book. I devoured it. It's been a while since I've read a book in three days (mind you, I work about 10 hours a day and have other commitments, so I don't get to read that much). But it's been quite a while since a book kept me up all night. I give Invincible Summer FIVE STARS because it was utterly fantastic. Really. I think everyone should go and pre-order it right now. I don't re-read books often, and this is definitely amid the top.