Thursday, August 18, 2011

Book Review: Invincible Summer by Hannah Moscowitz

Invincible SummerInvincible Summer by Hannah Moskowitz

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Pre-cap: A heartbreaking and beautiful book about a dysfunctional family and sign language and summer and more. I loved it to pieces.

Full disclosure. I went into this book thinking I wouldn’t like it. From the adjectives I’d seen used to describe it (raw, edgy, gritty, etc.), I was expecting one of those books that shows you one scene after another of pain and loss and misery with no joy or beauty to balance it out. One of those books that leaves me queasy and sad for the next few days. I hate those books.

But I love books that take you on an emotional journal, and that’s exactly what Invincible Summer does. Sure, there’s grief and sadness and loss - enough that you’ll probably cry. I did. But there’s also a family that so obviously loves each other and gorgeous descriptions of summer. And hope. You feel so much hope for the future of Chase and his family at the end of the book without having an ending that is overly sweet and happy.

Invincible Summer follows Chase and his family for four summers. You think it’s going to be a book about two brothers (Noah and Chase) that fall in love with the same girl (Melinda) but it so so isn’t. Chase is desperate to hold his family together. His parents don’t love each other but can’t seem to stop having babies. His little brother Gideon is deaf. His little sister Claudia is trying to be a woman too early. His older brother Noah won’t stop running away. Oh, and also he and Noah both end up tangled in Melinda’s web of seduction and manipulation (yeah, I didn’t like her most of the time).

I loved the characters, particularly Chase and Gideon. And how Moskowitz uses sign language dialogue and I got to see inside that world. There’s a part where Chase comforts Gideon in the middle of the night that I loved. And another part where Gideon signs something to Noah in regards to his college major that just broke my heart.

One of my favorite parts about Invincible Summer is that it is full of lines that are just these beautiful truths about the world. I can’t believe the author is a teenager! I feel like you need a lifetime of wisdom to dole out observations like that.

And she isn’t afraid to tackle difficult subject matter. A couple of scenes with Claudia made me uncomfortable because she acts so old/sexy for a girl who is 11-13 (the book spans multiple summers). At the same time, I feel like this is a problem with girls today – they’re trying to grow up way too fast. And I feel like Moskowitz called attention to it without being all look-at-me-I’m-an-issue-book.

I wasn’t a Noah fan. I’m more like Chase. I can’t help but want to stay and try to fix problems, and I tend to dislike characters who run from them. I wouldn’t call this a flaw in the book, though, because I was feeling a strong reaction to Noah even if it wasn’t a good one.

So, now you’re asking yourself, was there anything I didn’t like about the book? Well, not much, but here goes:

There was a hotel room scene with Melinda, Noah, and Chase, and what Melinda said about Chase didn’t move me the way I think it was supposed to. It kind of just weird-ed me out. Also, there was a bit too much Camus. Sometimes I wanted to know what the characters were actually thinking and I got a Camus quote instead.

And that’s it. Because I loved this book SO MUCH. It’s the first time since I had my baby 6 months ago that I’ve been hooked enough to finish a book within 48 hours.

Content Warning: There’s at least one pretty graphic love scene, so if you’re squeamish about stuff like that, you might want to skip that page. There’s also a good bit of swearing.

Other Reviews: Loved it/Hated it.

Note: Don’t judge this book by its cover because the cover doesn't fit. The author agrees and she's holding a look-for-the-new-cover contest.

View all my reviews


  1. OOh! This is intriguing. I might have to pick this up.