Shadowed Summer – Saundra Mitchell
Nothing ever happened in Ondine, Louisiana, not even the summer Elijah Landry disappeared.
His mother knew he ascended to heaven, the police believed he ran away, and his girlfriend thought he was murdered.
Decades later, certain she saw his ghost in the town cemetery, fourteen-year-old Iris Rhame is determined to find out the truth behind “The Incident With the Landry Boy”
Enlisting the help of her best friend Collette, and forced to endure the company of Collette’s latest crush, Ben, Iris spends a summer digging into the past and stirring old ghosts, in search of a boy she never knew.
What she doesn’t realize is that in a town as small as Ondine, every secret is a family secret.
Amazing. That’s this book in a word. Sheer effing amazing. The imagery, the dialogue, the characters, the mystery, everything about this book was such a revelation. The Deb books I’ve read so far are fantastic at making me take a minute or two to think and reflect, but you should know that I couldn’t pick up anything new for days after I finished Shadowed Summer. It was that striking of a novel.
Iris is one of those rare teenagers who have their heads screwed on right, and is one of the most sensible MCs to be found in fiction today. She’s colorblind, she’s non-judgmental, and despite having spent her whole life in a small town without a mother, she’s not starved for attention or love. Her simple small town summer becomes a whole lot bigger with the ghost of Elijah Landry, Ondine’s biggest unsolved mystery. Iris, her best friend Collette, and Collette’s new squeeze Ben collaborate to figure out what happened to Elijah all those years ago, and why he’s restless all over again. But what they find is enough to shake up Iris’ whole world
The story is spooky and woefully tragic all at once, but the real thing to watch here is the setting. It portrays the very essence and flavor of the South without going overboard. Moreover, the story moves as fluidly as liquid air, with not a single extra detail or moment spent in the same setting.
It’s a stark novel that depicts the loss of innocence. It’s about growing up and realizing the world is so huge and ugly, and so beyond anyone’s limited scope of imagination. It’s about realizing that the better you think you know someone, the less you actually know them. And it’s about finding out that you and your problems are merely atoms in the complex and elaborate structures of the world, and of life as a whole.
This is To Kill a Mockingbird for today’s generation, folks. Pure literary gold.
Watch out for a special Conversation with Saundra Mitchell tomorrow!