Fielding Bliss has never forgotten the summer of 1984: the year a heat wave scorched Breathed, Ohio. The year he became friends with the devil.

Sal seems to appear out of nowhere – a bruised and tattered thirteen-year-old boy claiming to be the devil himself answering an invitation. Fielding Bliss, the son of a local prosecutor, brings him home where he’s welcomed into the Bliss family, assuming he’s a runaway from a nearby farm town.

When word spreads that the devil has come to Breathed, not everyone is happy to welcome this self-proclaimed fallen angel. Murmurs follow him and tensions rise, along with the temperature as an unbearable heat wave rolls into town right along with him. As strange accidents start to occur, riled by the feverish heat, some in the town start to believe that Sal is exactly who he claims to be. While the Bliss family wrestle with their own personal demons, a fanatic drives the town to the brink of a catastrophe that will change this sleepy Ohio backwater forever.

I received an autographed copy of this book from the author, Tiffany McDaniel, in exchange for an honest review! 

The Summer That Melted Everything broke my heart a lot. There’s a whole lot of good in this novel, but it hurt to my core to read it.

Here’s a huge trigger warning, cause you’re gonna need it. There is an on-page suicide by a queer character, child abuse, several character deaths, and a racist lynch mob that ends in a lynching and burning alive. This book is incredibly hard to read, so please be careful with your mental health when choosing whether to read it or not.

The town of Breathed (pronounced Breath-ed), Ohio, is really messed up. It gets even worse when Sal shows up, despite the fact that Sal is nothing but goodness personified in a little African American boy’s body.

I loved Sal, as a character and as an idea. I almost wish that the book had been told from his perspective, rather than Fielding’s, because Fielding was honestly a little asshole. Sal truly was the hero of this story, the person Fielding could never be. I hated what happened to Grand. I hated what happened to Sal. I hated what Fielding became over the course of the story.

The prose in The Summer That Melted Everything was good, and there were some good quotes in it. It left me with a lot more questions than answers, and it hurt to read.

I think this very well might be someone else’s perfect book, but it wasn’t mine.This was a three star read for me, for the reasons listed above.

three stars

If you’re a spotify user, you can throw on the author-created playlist through this link! You can pick up a copy of The Summer That Melted Everything on Amazon, Indiebound, and your other favorite booksellers.

Tiffany McDaniel is an Ohio native whose writing is inspired by the rolling hills and buckeye woods of the land she knows. She is also a poet, playwright, screenwriter, and artist. The Summer that Melted Everything is her debut novel.

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