Just 18 Summers is one novel that I did not expect to be so good. I am warning other readers now to not read this one in public. You will just embarrass yourself. The book is absolutely hilarious. I was literally laughing out loud throughout. Aside from the funny moments, it was full of realistic characters with realistic issues. It is a good reminder that we, as parents, only have eighteen summers to make memorable memories with our children. It makes me realize that I must spend more time with my own kids. Nothing is as important as spending time with them and enjoying every minute with them while they are young. I do believe this book is perfect for the big screen. It would make a great movie like the book is. While I wait to see the movie, excuse while I go do something fun with my babies.
Just 18 Summers is a fun summer (or any other time of the year) read! I will be looking for more by these two authors. 5 plus stars.
This book jumps into the lives of several families who are each adjusting to phases of parenthood. The families are friends/family/neighbors and all acquainted with one another. There is a widower with an "under 10" daughter, a power couple with power kids (at least the parents think they should be), a family of regular folks who are entering an empty nest phase and oldest daughter getting married phase, and a couple expecting their first baby. The reader peeks into their lives to see how they are dealing emotionally and psychologically with the 18 summers they will have with each child. Read and see how it dawns on each person about the precious nature of time with our children. No matter the reader's parenting stage, the book connects with a large audience. I really enjoyed the book. It was sent to me as a prerelease for a review. These are my own opinions.
Written by Rene Gutteridge and Michelle Cox, Just 18 Summers is a novel about four families that struggle with grief, identity and life in the summer after the death of Jenny Browning. From the memories and written accounts in the book (each chapter is written from the perspective of different characters), the reader easily deduces that Jenny was not only a wife, sister, and friend, but also a devout believer in Christ whose life had a left a rippling effect in those around her. Each family is thus left treading water at different stages of life, trying to do it alone, apart from God's grace. Butch Browning is the father struggling with his new life as a widower. The Andersons are suffering regret as they prepare to "lose" to children to the next stage of life (college and marriage). The O'Reilly's are a young couple expecting their first child. The Buckleys have fallen into the trap of trying to provide their children every opportunity the mother did not have growing up.
By the end of the book, through the counseling of a therapist who happens to be a Christian, they've all learned the truth that an elderly billionaire learned too late, lonely reminiscing that
"When your child is born, eighteen years seems like they'll last forever. But it goes by in a blink. _ You have just eighteen summers to make memories together. You can't go back and rewind those days." (p167)
What a good message though! I've found myself thinking "18 summers" often since finishing this book, as it does seem to put it into a more tangible time frame how much time I have with my children; it is a good reminder to be intentional with our children, both in teaching them to walk in the Lord and to make lasting memories together, while also not being so fully absorbed in them that you don't have moments to yourself to get the rest and break you need to rejuvenate yourself physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Although their characters seem to each be a stereotypical extreme, they are nonetheless easily relatable- and I believe most people would be able to identify with one of the four families. Reflecting upon the novel, I was most able to relate to Daphne. No, I didn't baby proof my home with pool noodles, nor did I worry my floor carpeting was too hard, but I do tend to seek out godly parenting books (you can almost always find one on the nightstand!) in order to try to garner "tangible, applicable" wisdom, when in conviction I wonder whether if I just read the Bible and prayed whether I would be fairing just as well (if not better), rather than struggling with "not doing enough", the same thought I think each of these four families struggled with at different degrees. So I appreciated the gentle reminder when Beth tells a laboring Daphne that, "All the books in the world won't help you live in the moment_ God has a plan and a purpose for this little child, and He's letting you be a part of it, so don't worry." (p336)
What a great reminder of the blessing (and calling) God has given us this Mother's Day!
Disclosure of Material Connection: I will be received this book free from the publisher in exchange for the review. 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 Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255
My oldest son just turned 13 this week! Yes, I'm now the mom of a teenage boy...yikes. My twins turn 9 this month. Then school gets out next month, and we will have 8 weeks of summer (due to the balanced schedule we follow). Then we'll start a new year, and it will go just as fast (or faster) as this year. The book Just 18 Summers is a great reminder that times goes quickly for all of us. Our lives are constantly changing, our kids are constantly growing, and we have to embrace every moment we get with our family.
This book follow 4 families in different seasons of life: a widowed father with a school-aged girl, a young couple about to have their first child, a middle aged couple with kids, and another couple whose kids are flying the coop. The families interact with each other in various parts of the storyline. One thing this book really made me think about was how many summers I have left with my boys. Which when I start thinking about this, I get a little bit sappy!
"As with everything in life, there are no guarantees. You do what you can while you have them. In the blink of an eye, time has passed and you missed half the things you intended to do." *my favorite quote from the book*
For more information, I would highly recommend going to the Just 18 Summers website. One of their missions is to help make the daily journey easier for parents. And their website is full of ideas and stories designed specifically for parents.
*I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my review. All opinions are mine.*
Four different yet connected families, all in different stages of life, come to terms with just how short and fast life can actually seem. With only 18 summers in which to make lifelong memories, create lasting impressions, teach necessary skills and truly make a difference, each family must complete these tasks with everyday-life getting in the way. From becoming first-time parents to watching their daughter get married, each couple must make the most of time before it slips away_
A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Usually a screenplay is derived from a book, but in this case, the novelization is done in reverse. Through humor, emotions and faith, the authors did a wonderful of making one realize just how short 18 summers can be when children are involved. Too often, everyday busyness can get in the way of living to the fullest_we tend to put things aside, work too much and take people for granted rather than play with our children, teach them the basics and take care of ourselves in the process. Just 18 Summers is definitely a story that will make you pause and ponder your life and quite possibly, make some needed changes_before those 18 summers are over.
4.5 (out of 5) pennies
*I received a complimentary copy of Just 18 Summers from Tyndale House Publishers for my honest review*