Despite being a historical fiction the storm that occurs in the title is actually a fictional one, the rest of the history is pretty sound but if you’re going to be super picky about historical accuracy then you may want to move on. To everyone who just wants to read a good book, I advise you go and buy this.
Storm Summer is set in 1945 New Orleans, about a girl called Eileen adapting to the changes the war is forcing on her family, spending the summer with her Dida, oyster farming and finally facing the titular storm that really puts her to the test.
Eileen herself was a big selling point for me, she has a lot of the heroic qualities you would expect, a kind heart and bravery, but these qualities don’t over ride common sense or the selfish streak Eileen has. Don’t get me wrong, she’s not the ‘it’s all about me’ kind of selfish, she’s just chiefly concerned with her own world. If I can give an example; Eileen finds out a secret that’s hung between her mother her grandfather and rather than getting self-righteous she worries about how her maternal relationship will suffer if her mother were to discover the secret and Eileen’s’ knowledge of it. The selfish streak actually leads to one of my favourite character moments; when Eileen asks an acquaintance to do her a difficult favour, only to have something awful to happen to them. Rather than worrying about what will happen to this acquaintance Eileen rolls up her sleeves and does the favour for herself, for the sake of her Dida, even though she could have taken a much easier road. It’s such a real attitude to have, especially for a teen growing up with the threat of war and rationing, I loved Eileen and was genuinely frightened for her when she was swept into danger.
The book isn’t long, I read it in a morning, but it was a good morning, I didn’t feel a moment was wasted. We start off slowly, getting to know Eileen and experiencing a bit of her life in New Orleans getting some choice historical culture bits about party phone lines before being thoroughly immersed in the bayou with a bunch of beautiful description thrown in, followed with a fast paced and nail biting finish that, to be honest, I wasn’t totally expecting. Clasing not only writes very well but paces wonderfully, with the story all coming together and tying itself up in a satisfying finish, because not everything has to be ‘Book One of the Raven Hair Saga’, there’s a lot to be said for a cohesive story arc.
It’s not quite perfect, there are some typographical errors and there’s an insistence on using some unabbreviated language, presumably for a more historical feel, but it was quite jarring in places, there’s a comedy moment in a place where there probably shouldn’t have been one, some of the familial relationships could have done with a bit more fleshing out and there’s a character reveal that comes a bit before it’s time. But I don’t care about any of that because Storm Summer has so much heart, when Eileen is truly at her lowest I was there with here feeling what she was feeling.
I don’t want to blab too much because I’m going to recommend this. All I can really say is, you like good characters? Buy it. Family focused narrative? Buy it. Immersion? Buy it. Well-paced and exciting stories that will stay with you? Buy it.