Just 18 Summers really woke me up as a parent. I went through every day life honestly sometimes irritated when my kids wanted me to play or to tell me something. I felt that I was too busy but after reading Just 18 Summers I took a look at my kids and saw them for the people they really were. My little boy just wants me to look at him a minute and when I did he was happier. I took the time to build with him which made him so happy. Even helping him clean his room made him happier. My oldest wants to share fun stupid trivia and she wants you to appreciate that fact about her. We are all individuals and no one wants to feel that someone doesn't have time for them. God wants us to appreciate everyone, no matter how they are different. He wants us to love our children and watch them grow. I think this is a must read for any parent.
I received a copy of this book for my honest review from TBCN.
This tender book about families will make you laugh and cry.
Parents have their children for just 18 summers. How can parents make the best of those summers, creating memories while influencing their children to become godly adults? The authors have created a novel that gives readers the opportunity to follow four families through a summer.
Butch is trying to figure out single parenthood after his wife was recently killed in an automobile accident. He has Ava, a darling and perceptive child. Butch is floundering, evidenced by dressing Ava in her only clean top, a Christmas sweater, for the sweltering May high school graduation of her cousin.
Beth and Larry are facing their son going to college at the end of summer. Their daughter is home for the summer from her college studies. She drops a bombshell when she announces she's getting married at the end of summer to a pizza delivery guy. Struggling with all the crashing dreams they had for their daughter, with their son leaving soon, Beth and Larry wonder how they can make the best of this last family summer.
Daphne is pregnant. She's read every book, watched every video. She's driving her husband, Tippy, crazy with all her fears. Organic food, bumpers on all the sharp edges in their home. She even wonders if it is too early to send for SAT help books.
Helen and Charles have given their children everything money can buy. But what their children really wanted was time and snuggling love. Helen demanded perfection from their children and disdains the sloppy, fun loving children in other families. Now their oldest, valedictorian, full college scholarship, is leaving the home. Away so often on business trips, Charles struggles with what he has missed with his daughter.
The four couples know each other, through work, church, marriage, or a scrap book group. The authors cleverly interweave the families, showing the different parenting styles and their results. In that respect, this becomes a book showing attempts at family life. Some have sweet results while others are not so positive.
The authors have mixed humorous scenes with sobering ones. Ava needs homemade cupcakes for school and when Butch asks Larry to help, I laughed out loud. This isn't rocket science. Let's bake the cake first, then we'll worry about shaping them. And Ava is such a darling. She steals the show when she goes with her dad to his construction site and wins over his crew of hard working men.
This is a delightful novel for every parent. We see lessons learned in each of the families. Ultimately, each must rely on the Lord for their parenting efforts. Some have the future with their child before them while others must grieve time lost. I highly recommend this novel.
I received a complimentary copy of this book through The Book Club Network for the purpose of an independent and honest reivew.
Rene Gutteridge is one of my favorite authors and I know I can always expect quality writing from her. Michelle Cox is new to me so I was interested to see how they would mesh. I enjoyed the result very much. There is nothing that disappointed me about this book.
We follow four families, two of whom live next door to each other. Most parents worry about how to raise their children to be happy, productive adults. The neighbors have very different styles of parenting. Helen over schedules her children in an effort to give them the good start that she didn't have. Her son and daughter feel pushed to perform and really wish to be loved and nurtured. The son watches his neighbors playing outside flying a kite and wishes that he could do that with his dad. He is devastated when his dad hires their neighbor to build and fly a kite with him.
Each family has very different circumstances and a different reason to doubt their parenting skills. Each realizes they only have 18 summers to get it right before their children may be on their own.
I think this is a book that would be enjoyed by anyone who likes a good story. There were times when I felt sad for both parents and children. In the next chapter I'd be laughing. The story held my interest throughout the book. There were times I couldn't put the book down until I found out what happened. If you don't know either of these writers, I hope you will take a chance on their writing. I believe you will enjoy this book as much as I did.
Just 18 Summers is a very thought provoking novel. It has a very good story that connects 4 families together in their struggle to raise kids, have careers, and keeping their priorities straight. This happens all amidst tragedy and joy. I love the way it is told from the viewpoint of the 7 different parents. I ended up seeing myself in all of these characters. There is a part of them we could all probably identify with in some way. A very good and interesting read that will make you laugh, cry, and cringe about life.
I received this book from The Book Club Network in exchange for a review.
Hilarious read, yet at times poignant. Great for anyone who loves kids.
September 18, 2014
Just 18 Summers is particularly relevant for many readers because it is about the brevity of parenthood, the struggles parents experience, and at least in the Western culture, trying to balance busy lives with our childrens' need for us to be there for them. Four families loosely connected to each other become the backdrop for the events embroidered on it. Some of the scenes are funny, some are poignant, some are very serious in nature. The book touched my heart in a good way, and I hope it does the same for you.
Butch Browning was suddenly thrown into single fatherhood when his young wife died in a car crash. Butch and Jenny's daughter was 8 going on twenty it seemed. Since the day he received news of his wife's death, he could barely function in real life. He didn't know anything about rearing a little girl. Tippy's wife Daphne was pregnant with their first child. Tippy thought she was high strung before the pregnancy, but now she was fanatical about child care, child rearing and safety, and parenthood in general. He admitted to Butch that she had bought nearly 50 books on the topic. Daphne found some consolation in the scrapbooking group she attended once a week. The group had been started by Jenny, Butch's wife.
Beth Anderson was also a part of the scrapbooking group her sister Jenny had started. It was a bright spot in what looked to be a difficult summer. Larry and Beth Anderson lived in a nice neighborhood. Larry was a great provider which allowed Beth to stay at home with their three children. But regrets reared their ugly heads after the death of Beth's sister. She realized how fleeting life really was, and it hit her hard when their oldest son graduated from high school. Larry, too, felt the crunch of time when he understood this was the last summer their family would experience as a whole unit. When Robin, 21, announced her engagement and upcoming marriage in the Fall, Beth went through full-blown panic, while Larry launched his last ditch effort towards family unity that he called "The Summer of Intense Fun."
Across the hedge from the Andersons were Charles and Helen Buckley. Helen was also part of the scrapbooking group Jenny had organized. They had noticed the sudden frenetic activity in their neighbor's yard--strange games with whipped cream and cherries, rocket-powered kites, picnics, charades, and Pictionary. It was not dignified and Helen was unsettled by it all. Charles hadn't noticed much because he was always away at work.
One of the many things I loved about this book is the humor embedded in the multiple streams of the plot lines. For me, one of the funniest incidents was when the culinary-challenged dad, Butch, was to bake cupcakes for Ava's class. I could only laugh when Tippy showed up with a toolbox, especially later when they lost a screwdriver in the batter. I really have to try using a glass to cut out cupcake shapes from a sheetcake, just once. But the peanutbutter covered beef jerky with M&M's on top really struck my funny bone. How could we not chuckle at such attempts to make little Ava's upside down life turn topside. I give Butch an A for effort.
I enjoy character-based books as well as I like adventure and action books. Characterization is important in this book, especially in the addition of the deceased Jennifer Browning, whose presence is felt all throughout the story. In fact, her absence is the catalyst for the fallout two main characters experience and is the element the authors use to further bind the four families together. Her loss served to create tension; eventually that tension is resolved through the events of the storyline.
Throughout the book, a single theme rings out loud and clear: time is short and you may never recover special family moments if you allow them to slip past you. Because four families are struggling with this basic factor, it tends to get repeated often in various ways. I found this a tad bit irritating. But that's just me. Overall, I give this book two thumbs up and recommend it to parents in all stages of life.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book from The Book Club Network on behalf of Tyndale House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.