David Baldacci: One Summer
Although bestselling American author
David Baldacci is better known for his thriller novels, he has managed to write
One Summer beautifully. The novel tells the story of a family torn apart by
a sudden death, but brought together by a miracle. It follows the characters as
they reconcile, overcome their loss and grow closer.
As a former army ranger, Jack
Armstrong has spent over half his marriage away from his family. Now in his
mid-thirties, he’s suffering from a fatal disease and his future has been
narrowed down to a few weeks, if not days. His high school sweetheart and wife,
Lizzie, is agonized over her husband and has to look after her family of three
On Christmas Eve, as she is
picking up Jack’s medication, a fatal accident claims Lizzie’s life. Traumatized
by the sudden death of their mother, Grandmother Bonnie
pushes for Jack to live out his last days in a hospice while she takes
care of the children.
With the family at their lowest
point, a miracle sees Jack gradually get better against all odds. There is no medical
explanation for it. All doctors assert that Jack’s disease is 100% fatal and
there are no exceptions, but he somehow survives.
Fulfilling his wife’s wish,
Jack takes the children and spends the summer in an old family house in South
Carolina. His feelings of guilt over his wife’s death eventually subside, he
meets Jenna, the local diner’s owner, and with her assistance reconciles with
his kids. And that’s when the plot really kicks in.
The novel is well-paced, and Baldacci
moves readers smoothly from one emotional state to the other. He manages to make readers really sympathise with Jack; but some of the plot twists are pretty dramatic.
The characters are likable, but they are too perfect to be a part of the real
world. By the end of the novel, it feels like all their problems have been
solved a bit too easily, and they can all live happily ever after.
The novel is too emotional to
the point of sappiness, and is reminiscent of Nicholas Sparks’ novels. But if
you are looking for a light summer read that offers escapism, we recommend you give One Summer a go.