The Official Description: Determined to record every summer day, young history teacher Luke Devlin starts school vacation imagining he’ll describe backcountry adventures in the Rockies and sun-splashed days home in Denver. But all too soon the season veers into crisis, when his older brother faces life-threatening illness and Luke becomes entangled in a love affair that’s as fast-moving and possibly as fatal as his brother’s diagnosis.
As Luke manages the household for his absent parents and struggles with the constant pressure of his unfinished master’s deadline, his fling with a Wyoming rancher grows serious just as his brother’s crisis overwhelms him. Luke’s love of his native ground and his search for romance collide with the hard realities of mortality and loss during an unexpected summer.
Just the facts: a family journey through fatal illness, focus on brothers
My thoughts bit: This book is a tough one for me to review. I’m a bit unclear on who the intended audience of the book is as the description varies quite a lot from what the actual book is about. Let’s jump right in!
The book description reads as though this book may be a summer of discovery, loss, and love. I wouldn’t use that description for this book. I can get the “love” aspect out of the way right off the bat. The main character Luke does meet an older man, Jeff. They get together extremely quickly… then after a single meeting with a complete stranger who passes on some information … Luke is done with the relationship. There’s really no indication any further in the novel if the two men continue to be connected. I’m not even certain this relationship was necessary at all for the novel to be a complete story.
The book is taken up with a variety of issues that, at times, seem to overwhelm the plot. The author goes into elaborate detail about philosophy, vegetarianism, anti-meat eating, environmentalism, existentialism, infidelity, coming out late in life, homophobia, religion … I’m sure there are more that I’m forgetting. I thought the author did a great job of writing about all of those things and making it accessible…but there was a bit too much of it. There are parts of the novel that read more like a textbook than fiction.
The main relationship in the book is that of Luke and his brother Matt. Their relationship is lovely and I really enjoyed the times they were together. I loved how the author managed to convey the way in which brothers can be extremely close. Luke and Matt were really well-written. I think I almost enjoyed Matt’s characterization more as he struggled with his entire life-changing. There was a kind of subtle bravery and steadfastness to Matt that seemed very authentic.
I think this was a recounting of a summer in which some terrible things happened but some of the emotion got lost because of the many issues that were being covered by the author. The downward spiral of a main character’s illness is the primary plot in the story and it’s a bit bogged down in the rest of the issues that are peppered throughout the story.
I can’t say that I enjoyed this book, after all, there’s little to enjoy about losing a family member. There’s an audience for every book though… and I believe that.
Things You May Want To Know: Please be aware, I’m by no means an expert on what may or may not have the potential to disturb people. I simply list things that I think a reader might want to be aware of. In this book: (SPOILERS) homophobia, description of feedlots, anti-meat arguments, a family member with severe illness, family member with a brain tumor, a joke made about gender reassignment surgery (not corrected, made to CIS gender women), character journals their body weight
I received an ARC of Every Summer Day by Lee Patton via Netgalley in exchange for an unbiased review.