The Summer Son
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: AmazonEncore (January 25, 2011)
Craig Lancaster has a knack for exploring relationships on all levels, and The Summer Son does that as well as any book out there.
Mitch Quillen has had a rocky relationship with his father that has dwindled into two phone calls a year and maybe two visits in 25 years. All of a sudden his father, Jim, starts calling frequently but won’t say what has prompted the calls. Mitch doesn’t need this aggravation on top of what he is already dealing with. His marriage is so strained it could easily break, and his career is not going so well either. His wife, Beth, a very wise woman, encourages Mitch to just go visit his father and see what is going on. Maybe the break will also give him an opportunity to consider the marriage and where it is going.
So Mitch goes to Montana where he spent summers after his parents divorced and he moved to Washington State with his mother. He thinks his current visit is only to find out what is going on with his father, but he ends up finding out so much more.
The book alternates between two storylines: the last summer Mitch spent with his father back in 1979, and the present. Jim is characterized as an angry, remote, hard working man who is brutal at times. He drinks, and things are not pleasant when he is tipping the bottle. An older brother, Jerry, can’t take the verbal and physical abuse and leaves to join the marines, which leads to a tragedy that Mitch blames his father for.
The relationship between the man and the boy mirrors the current relationship and frustration builds between the men. Anger dominates so many scenes, and they are both unable to speak what is in their hearts until almost too late.
Nothing is held back in this emotional story of relationships lost and the search to find them again, and it is hard to decide which character one will root for the most. They both need redemption. It will resonate strongly with readers who are dealing with similar issues, but it is also a good read for those who are not. If you are sentimental, as I am, it will bring a few tears, as well as a smile or two. But that is what a good story is supposed to do, engage the reader on an emotional level.