Monday, January 9, 2023

The Summer We Buried by Jody Gehrman


I was so excited to buddy read this with my friend, Heather, because we both really enjoy thrillers that feature messy women confronting their messy pasts. It is literally the best kind of book when done well, and that is LAW. (Although, you know, don't try to enforce it or anything.) After reading and enjoying this author's other female-fronted thriller, THE GIRLS WEEKEND, I was dying to read this one.

The heroine, Tansy, is a guidance counselor at a college. She lives an unassuming life renting an apartment from her ex-husband, whom she used to be in a rock band with. She seems like any other thirty-year-old lady living her best life and coming to terms with mediocrity, but she harbors a very-much-NOT-mediocre secret. And that secret comes in the form of Selene, a woman who she was friends with when she was young until tragedy and a dark secret separated them for good. Selene leverages that secret to force Tansy to spy on her daughter, Jupiter, who she suspects is being abused by her boyfriend.

It's difficult to say more without spoilers, because most of the "mystery" elements are reveals. I would say that the bulk of the story is about the tensions between various characters, and their questionable mental states. It feels like one of those dramatic Netflix mini-series, where you watch the characters fight and fight and fight, until something finally gives. Books like these are hard to write because none of that really matters if you don't feel personally invested in the characters and it took me until about 33% of the book to feel invested before I cared about these people. Because of the title and the premise, I was expecting more twists and surprises, you know, something really dark. Like ROANOKE GIRLS. I ended up feeling kind of disappointed during most of the "twists" because I'd already predicted them and assumed they were distractions from an even grander reveal.

I liked the sort-of romance between Tansy and Zack and it features a smutty scene in a planetarium that was surprisingly romantic... until it was fade to black. While we were talking about this book, Heather mentioned that a lot of the important or interesting scenes happened "off page," and I think that was another failing. Having the author merely alluding to dark and or sensual scenes only made me wish that they'd been left in instead because of how much better the book would have been with them. THE SUMMER WE BURIED wasn't a bad book but it left me wanting a lot more than I got.

3 to 3.5 out of 5 stars

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