2011 Book #8: Invincible Summer by Hannah Moskowitz
I need to step up my game. Only eight books so far? C’mon, Nicole, you can do way better than that!
Anyway, this one is Hannah Moskowitz’s Invincible Summer, which looks like a beach read or maybe a romance from the cover, and then you start reading it and NO, ACTUALLY, it’s a really absorbing drama about Chase and his siblings trying desperately to hold their dysfunctional family together. The beach plays a big role in the story – despite the fact that Chase lives elsewhere eleven months of the year, the beach is home to him. There’s a side of teenage love triangle, as the blurb on the back leans so heavily on. But ultimately this story is about family, and about home, and about what happens when both those things get fucked up.
The book follows Chase through his fourteenth to eighteenth birthdays at his family’s beach house, where problems from his elsewhere life intermingle with the beach’s own set of issues. His parents keep fighting, his little brother Gideon is deaf and no one wants to deal with the communication issues, his little sister Claudia is trying to mature faster than anyone wants, there’s a new baby to deal with, and the brother he looks up to, Noah, keeps running off. Oh yeah, and there’s this hot girl whose family owns the next house over…
I didn’t expect to love these characters as much as I did. I fell in love with the whole family by the end of Chase’s first summer – especially Gideon, who was my favorite. Gid is sort of the epitome of his family’s inability to talk to one another. He’s a strange, imaginative, funny, stubborn kid who’s totally reliant on a family that can’t understand what’s going on in his head. You know how sometimes you can pinpoint the exact moment you fell in love with a character? For me it was when Gid comes to the breakfast table wearing a snorkel, and his brother asks him how he was planning on eating waffles through the snorkel and he signs back, Magic.
There’s a lot of that kind of thinking in this book. Like just willing something to work will make it all better. Spoiler for life and book alike: it never does.
Writing lesson learned: Yes, actually, you CAN write big families and have everyone come off as unique, distinct characters! Moskowitz shows her characters’ bonds through shared jokes and fears and makes every character’s best and worst traits and motivations clear right up front. I think having a judgmental narrator helps her do this, but I haven’t quite figured it out. At any rate, it’s awesome, and I adore this whole family.
You might like this book if you enjoy… tight family bonds, coming of age stories, YA novels with male protagonists, and great characterization.
Would I recommend this to friends? Yes.
Side note: I tweeted at the author about how I threw the book across the room when I finished and then capslocked curses at her characters. She replied:
I think I love you, Hannah Moskowitz.
Which is probably a good thing, because I’m on the schedule for her Gone, Gone, Gone ARC tour. And psyched about it! I’m gonna draw things in the margins.