ABOUT THE BOOK:
Tallulah James’s parents’ volatile relationship, erratic behavior, and hands-off approach to child rearing set tongues to wagging in their staid Mississippi town, complicating her already uncertain life. She takes the responsibility of shielding her family’s reputation and raising her younger twin siblings onto her youthful shoulders.
If not for the emotional constants of her older brother, Griff, and her old guard Southern grandmother, she would be lost. When betrayal and death arrive hand in hand, she takes to the road, headed to what turns out to be the not-so-promised land of Southern California. The dysfunction of her childhood still echoes throughout her scattered family, sending her brother on a disastrous path and drawing her home again. There she uncovers the secrets and lies that set her family on the road to destruction.
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The Myth of Perpetual Summer by Susan Crandall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Myth of Perpetual Summer by Susan Crandall is a 2018 Gallery Books publication.
Heart wrenching southern style coming of age tale, bracketed into a touching story of eventual hope!
Mississippi during the 60s and 70s is boiling pot of tension and scrutiny. It’s the perfect backdrop for this coming of age story centered around Tallulah James and her dysfunctional southern family.
Tallulah copes as best she can in a house full of secrets and miseries. Her father exhibits the hallmark symptoms of mental illness in a time when it was something people didn’t understand or discuss. Her mother has little regard for parenthood, which leaves Tallulah, her brother, Griff, and younger twin siblings under their grandmother’s supervision most of the time.
Her grandmother’s overwhelming emphasis on propriety is overbearing, and her parent’s constant arguments and failings, leaves Tallulah desperate to escape Mississippi. Eventually, circumstances force her hand, propelling her to leave home and start a new life for herself. But several years later, a horrendous family situation sends Tallulah racing back home, back into her grandmother’s life, where she also reconnects with her old friend, Ross.
As memories from the past collide with the present, the family is finally forced to face the buried truths that have burdened them for far too long, paving the way for long overdue understanding, forgiveness, redemption, and healing.
I have been trying to work this book into my reading schedule for over a year and a half. It was supposed to be a summertime beach read for me, but I’m glad I ended up reading the book now, instead. It’s been a cold, dreary week, (proving there is no perpetual summer in Texas either, contrary to popular belief), and this book pulled me away from my present time and place, sucking me into a good old- fashioned southern family drama.
This story is absorbing, and so heartbreakingly sad. My heart ached for these children who longed for paternal love and guidance, but all too often had to be the adults in the family. Dark, buried secrets, is the foundation upon which lies, and scandals and whispers are built around the family, and Tallulah bears the brunt of something she doesn’t fully understand, as a teenage girl.
While the simmering Mississippi climate creates a haunting and taut atmosphere, the emotions run long and deep, building and cloying, desperate for a release. The dam will finally burst, and the relief is palpable and immediate. While the aftermath still leaves some uncertainty to contend with, overall, the predominant feeling is one of hope and new beginnings.
This is a terrific drama, which addresses a host of family issues, but with an emphasis on mental illness. The time frame reveals how once taboo topics are finally becoming less stigmatized and better understood.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Ross is THE show stealer! He is the most satisfying character in the book, all the way around. His unconditional love, patience, kindness, and loyalty are a much- needed balm. However, I also thought his own bit of family rebelliousness, which resulted in a most fitting career choice, was wonderfully ironic.
Although this book was marketed as a summer beach read, the weightiness is balanced enough to make it a great year -round choice. If you enjoy family sagas, historical fiction, or coming of age stories- this book is one you might want to consider!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Susan grew up in a small Indiana town, married a guy from that town, and then moved to Chicago for a while. She is pleased to say that she has been back in her hometown for many years and plans to stay.
She's received a RITA, two National Reader's Choice Awards and a SIBA Award for Fiction. Her books include an Indie Next Pick, Okra Picks, a Target Book Club pick, and are popular with book clubs.