Monday, 6 June 2016

The Last Days of Summer by Vanessa Ronan (2016)


Publisher's Information

She can forgive. They can't forget.
After ten years in the Huntsville State Penitentiary, Jasper Curtis returns home to live with his sister and her two daughters. Lizzie does not know who she's letting into her home: the brother she grew up loving or the monster he became.
Teenage Katie distrusts this strange man in their home but eleven-year-old Joanne is just intrigued by her new uncle.
Jasper says he's all done with trouble, but in a forgotten prairie town that knows no forgiveness, it does not take long for trouble to arrive at their door ...


Review 


It takes time to read this book and fully absorb the atmosphere of menace that builds right from the first page. The tension builds in the same way as the story develops; slow and simmering until it finally reaches its boiling point when the story concludes in a whirling swirl of violence and destruction. 
As I was reading The Last Days of Summer I couldn't help but be reminded of Harper Lee's 'To Kill a Mocking Bird,' or 'Go Set A Watchman.' The story is set in small town America, descriptions of the landscape and the people are vivid in detail and there is an undercurrent of menace running through each line of the story. I was just waiting for something bad to happen. The towns people couldn't and wouldn't forgive or forget what Jasper had done and they weren't happy that he was back in town. In their eyes he is a loose cannon and they are going to stop him before he explodes.
 However Jasper isn't alone. He has a sister and two nieces one of whom he is very fond of. Their vulnerability in this hostile environment is palpable and it's only a matter of time before someone gets hurt.
I was expecting this book to be a dark read and so I wasn't caught unaware when things started to heat up. I was hoping that Lizzie and her two daughters would escape the worst of it. The ending would have been a lot darker had Jasper not acted in the way he did but what I really loved about the ending was Rose's final act of vengeance.

A compelling and beautifully written story.


Thank you to Penguin Random House Ireland for the review copy.

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