on 23 May 2012
I struggled through the first quarter of this book in the hope that something, anything, believable would happen. What did happen was complete and utter tosh, from the stroppy teenage daughter (beautiful and talented, of course), to the miraculous recovery from a deathbed and the cringingly awful love letters written on said deathbed (yawn, yawn). I don't read books which contain this kind of silly, sentimental rubbish and certainly will not be reading the rest of the book as I can see from other disappointed reviewers that this theme runs entirely from beginning to end of the book. Shame on you, Mr Baldacci, for thinking that this ridiculous story would appeal to your loyal fans.
on 9 August 2011
Jack Armstrong is a former army ranger married to his other half...a marriage meant to be, made in heaven. Then he comes down with an unnamed fatal illness which will leave his wife and 3 children alone.
David Baldacci completes an artful and accurate description of what illness does to the whole family. The story is told from Jack's viewpoint..."he couldn't make it upstairs to his bedroom...It was another piece of his life taken from him, like he was being dismantled, brick by brick. ". The story is heart rendering and oh so true in its description of its` characters, in the thoughts of Jack, the actions of his wife and his teenage daughter. The two younger sons really do not have much depth in their part, but that does not hamper the story.
The family suffers another horrendous tragedy and blow after blow. Jack has to struggle to rebuild his life, his emotions and most of all his family. The bulk of the story takes place at his wife's family beach house, where we see a family struggling with the anger, the angst of the setbacks they are dealt.
This is a heart wrenching story, but also one that proves the power of love and determination and yes of miracles. It is for romantics and those who search for what life is all about, what people can do and learn and how they can change their lives. It shows the mistakes and tenderness that we all need to see and would find absorbing to read about. This is a book, a good story with all the interesting plot twists and turns of a mesmerizing summer read....Sometimes life doesn't work out and then maybe it does.
on 2 September 2011
This book had been recommended at various bookstores, so I was hoping for more from the story and the writer.
I have never read a David Baldacci novel before, but I understand that he mostly writes action type thrillers. Well that comes through in One Summer, the way it's written, the pace -it's like he's desperately trying a new genre but can't stray too far from the nest.
As one reviewer has already suggested, the storyline feels artificial. Perhaps it's because each chapter is only about four pages long, so the story keeps jumping from one scene to the next. This book reads as if it was written to be a film.
It is also somewhat predictable in it's storyline, perhaps not so much if you don't read the jacket first (if you do, you might as well not bother reading the actual book as there's little else to the story).
I was hoping for more evocative descriptions of summer in South Carolina and some insight into the more unusual issues that might split and unite a family. Now that could have made it a good summer read! Sadly, this book just never really delivered.
on 8 October 2011
This is not the first family drama written by the great crime author (read the excellent Wish You Well) and we sure hope it will not be the last.
Baldacci seems to be leaping from the one genre to the other without any apparent difficulty. On the one hand in his books we meet trained killers, read conspiracy theories, and enjoy scenes of fast paced action, and on the other we find ourselves enjoying stories full of love and tenderness and, yes, with a touch of melancholy at the top. However, even the latter, manage to grab the reader by the throat and never allow his or her attention to drift away for a single moment from the action, from start to finish.
It all begins when we meet Jack Armstrong, an Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran. He's a dying man, confined in bed, breathing with the help of machines, at his home in Cleveland. What the enemy bullets and the bombs haven't managed to do, is now done by a mysterious illness, from which the chances to survive are minimal, or rather nonexistent. However he's not alone, as he always has by his side his loving wife Lizzie, whom he married when very young, and his young sons; Jackie, who's just two years old and Cory, who's twelve. They all seem to have come to terms with the idea of his demise. However, there's someone who's not there for him, and that hurts. His daughter Michelle, or Mikki, as they all call her, is a girl of sixteen who at a first glance doesn't seem to know how to handle the situation, so instead of sticking close to him, she chooses to stay as far away as she can. Jack, trapped day and night in his own bed, in his very home, he mentally visits his past, counts his blessings and spends as much time as he possibly can talking to his family, but also secretly writing a series of letters to Lizzie. Through these letters he intends to explain to her some things, and confess some others, while, in a way, he also wants to convince her to go on and lead a happy life after he's gone.
Christmas day will be his last; or, at least, that's the plan. However destiny, as usually is the case, has its own plans for him. Thus on Christmas Eve the wheels will suddenly turn and Lizzie will die at a traffic accident. As one would expect now things will dramatically change, as Jack will not only lose the love of his life, but also his kids, who will move away to live with their grandmother and aunts, each in a separate home, leaving him behind to die. Death, his death, seems to be the only thing he can control anymore and any time he decides to leave the world, the exit door will open. The only thing he needs to do is push a button and ask the doctors to put him out of his misery. However, even though death looks to be an attractive option, something holds him back from embracing its graces, despite the fact that "Sometimes living was far harder than dying". As he reaches the point of no return, and decides to put an end to it all, exactly then the miracle happens; he starts to get better. Nobody can believe this miraculous reversal of fortune; not his doctors, not even himself. Each passing day though brings him closer to full recovery, and as time goes by his will to live is getting stronger and stronger. Now, with the help of his best friend Sammy, is determined more than ever to put things right, and make a new beginning with his kids. To achieve that though, he first has to make peace with his past. "You should respect the past. You should never forget the past. But you can't live there". The road to salvation will be long and winding, and Jack, better late than never, will at last come to realize that he needs other people's help to reach his destination.
This is a well written story that talks about love and death, about the big passions that rule our lives, about the darkness that lurks in the teenage soul, as well as for the big truths that we fail to see, even though they are constantly right in front of our eyes. A brilliant novel by a master storyteller.
on 9 May 2012
First things first, I`m a great fan of David Baldacci and have actually now read all his books (except the brand new one that`s just come out). He generally writes gripping, taut, exciting thrillers with realistic, interesting and dynamic characters. This in a way makes this particular book One Summer even worse, as if I knew it was an author or genre I didn`t like I would have avoided it like the plague, but as it was from the pen of Mr Baldacci I somehow expected it was going to be a good book, even if it wasn`t his usual type of novel.
Put briefly, (DON`T READ THIS IF YOU DON`T WANT TO KNOW THE STORY/ PLOT) a man on his death bed somehow makes a miraculous recovery from a terminal illness (it`s never satisfactorily explained how) whilst his fit and healthy wife is killed in a car crash when she went out in bad weather to get his medicines for him. He then gets fit, takes his children away for a summer to a place which had special memories for his wife, gets embroiled in several fights with the residents, loses his children in a custody battle then gets them back again, fixes a lighthouse light that hasn`t worked for 20 years (as you do), saves his daughter from drowning at sea during a hurricane despite his weakened body. Whilst his daughter and her boyfriend who are miraculously both great musicians enter a talent contest, then our hero goes on to marry the daughter`s boyfriend`s mother . Quite. Oh, and all the time he draws comfort from letters he had written for his wife to read .
I`m sorry, but this is all unbelievable nonsense. Not recommended