Monday, March 31, 2014

Book Review: The Summer of Letting Go by Gae Polisner

The Summer of Letting GoThe Summer of Letting Go by Gae Polisner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Francesca “Beans” Schnell’s world has been falling apart ever since her little brother drowned. Her father seems to be hiding something, her mother can’t look her in the eye, her best friend is dating the boy of her dreams and worst of all, she hates herself as she feels she’s to blame for her brother’s death.

While trailing her father trying to get to the bottom of his odd behavior, Francesca happens to meet Frankie Sky, a boy who bears an eerie resemblance to her dead brother. But it’s more than that, there are also inexplicable coincidences that lead Beans to believe her brother’s soul might be living in Frankie Sky.

Gae Polisner’s prose is like poetry. It reads as if every word of every sentence is handpicked with precision creating a perfect flow like ocean waves. This book was so evocative, I smiled, I cheered, I cried. Francesca’s story is haunting, yet hopeful and every time a new twist of fate occurred, my heart stopped, waiting to see what it might mean. I loved learning about Saint Florian, Christmas Island crabs, and sand dollars. I loved seeing how throughout the book Francesca grew stronger and further away from that place in her past, and closer to letting go.

I fell in love with the characters in this book. So many readers will be able to relate to those characters with that air of sadness about them — when you feel so heavy inside, like you’re drowning, but have to continue to move and stay afloat on the outside — the Schnell’s, Mrs. Schyler, Mrs. Merrill. Lisette is a perfect best friend, and lovely, and I love that she doesn’t act like she’s beautiful even though she clearly is. I adore Bradley's, quirkiness and even Peter’s peculiarity.

Then there is Frankie Sky. Gae has written him so well…I picture him in my head perfectly. His voice is adorable and I’m sure will stick with me for a long time. I wonder if Gae spent a lot of time around 4 year olds while writing this because it seems so spot on. And I love his spirit, the spirit of a young boy, full of energy and adventure who believes himself invincible.

I read Gae’s first book, The Pull of Gravity, and her writing is even better than before (and it was beautiful before) — This storey even more beautiful and heartfelt. If this is what we should expect from Ms. Polisner in the future, I'm in.

This book will resonate with me for weeks, I can tell. It will make me take a closer look at the world, at chance occurrences, coincidences and karma. I try not to live in the past and to live life profoundly and passionately like Frankie Sky, but sometimes I still need reminders, as I’m sure we all do, and this book as given me one.

Do yourself a favor and buy this book. You won’t regret it.

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