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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Goodbye Summer by Patricia Gaffney~★★

Author: Patricia Gaffney
Title: The Goodbye Summer
Release Date: April 13, 2004
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Inc.
Genre: Fiction

Book Jacket: "How much change can one summer bring? If you're Caddie Winger---thirty-two years old, still living with her grandmother, and giving piano lessons to neighborhood children---one summer can make the whole world look different.
Caddie's mother died when Caddie was nine, and the child was raised by her grandmother. Now their roles are reversed, and it's Caddie who takes care of Nana. When her grandmother breaks a leg and insists on going into a convalescent home, Caddie finds herself being pulled out of her comfy, self-made nest. Living alone for the first time since college, she uncovers some startling truths from her past. 
Jolted, she looks at the world with new eyes and begins to take charge of her future. As she makes a new best friend, takes risks she never dreamed she could, and navigates the depths and shallows of true love and devastating heartbreak, Caddie learns how to trust other people and, ultimately, how to trust herself. 
Wise, moving, and reassuringly real, The Goodbye Summer offers us a deeper understanding of the perplexing and invigorating magic that is life itself." 

Taryn's Review: This is one of those books that sucked me in due to the cutesy cover. I love older homes, so naturally the adorable porch on the cover caught my attention and into my bag it went. Unfortunately, the cover seemed to be my favorite part of the book.

The book began slowly and never picked up pace. It was a really long book for such a mundane story (almost 400 pages), yet I kept reading, hoping the storyline would get better. The eventual love interest was fairly obvious within the first meeting of the two, so it was no surprise to me that the storyline followed the route it. Nana didn't feel like a main character, but a sort of static noise in the background that was used to relay secrets and create chaos in Caddie's life.

For me, Caddie's character never really developed into an enlightened version of herself. A part of that lag could have been due to the point-of-view the author chose to tell the story. I really think it would have been advantageous to the story to tell it through the eyes of Caddie (1st person) versus the 3rd person narrative. My other issue with the story was that the author used peculiar descriptions that I don't think were helpful to the writing. For example, on page 10 Gaffney wrote, "Caddie blew a damp fall of hair out her eyes." What is a fall of hair? I googled it and I couldn't find this phrase used anywhere in the same context the author had. In fact, hair fall (and a handful of sites referred it as fall of hair) is baldness or the loss of hair. Caddie's hair certainly didn't fall out in the story, so I found that to be a poor choice of phrasing. On page 307, Gaffney wrote, "He put his horny forefinger on Talbot County." Horny forefinger? I know that the term can mean "calloused," but with the prevalent use of the word horny to describe sexual arousal, this description made me laugh. There were a few other descriptions that left me perplexed.

Overall, I didn't find the story to be interesting or one that was unique. The time-old tale of a woman finding herself has been written countless times before, so to create a new, successful version of the tale, strong writing skills are crucial for a fresh perspective. Yet in this instance the writing failed to deliver. The ending was also a head-scratcher as to what exactly the reader was supposed to take away from the story. It is unlikely that I will pick up another book by this author and I can't imagine a circumstance in which I would recommend this story.

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