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Hurricane Summer, by Asha Bromfield

2 reviews

courtneyfalling's review

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dark emotional tense fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

3.0

This was definitely a powerful premise and sometimes stunning story and character portrayal, but I honestly felt uncomfortable and on edge through most of my time reading because of how little Tilla challenged what was happening to her... like wow I had a lot of secondhand hate for characters around her, but without relating to Tilla as much, it felt consuming! (I do think this might be impacted by how much this book activated my own teenage experiences, fears, and traumas, so like, definitely check the CWs on this!)

A few main frustrations:
  • Tilla does not read as 18, she reads as like 15 :/. I couldn't get over how much younger her perspective felt than what we were supposed to believe throughout basically every chapter. And to a lesser extent, Mia doesn't read as 9, she reads as 11-12 with some of the comments she makes. She's not really believable, just a device for Tilla. 
  • SpoilerThis book shows a pretty graphic sexual assault on page then refuses to openly name it as sexual assault in Tilla's thought process, let alone out loud to other characters, and given the victim-blaming and internalized slut-shaming that follows, I really think this book needed to address it as sexual assault. It feels incomplete and potentially really damaging, especially given this is YA with what is supposed to be a clear-cut moral and main character we relate to/like.
     
  • SpoilerI hated Andre's death being used as Tilla's final moment of self-understanding. It's shitty to use the darkest-skinned character's death as merely a plot device and moment of redemption for other characters after spending the whole rest of the book challenging the colorism that exact character faces.
     
  • SpoilerI didn't feel like Tilla should "forgive" her father. I just didn't. She hadn't processed enough yet, her father hadn't taken any accountability, so much will still happen when Tilla returns to Canada and talks to her mother, and honestly, her father doesn't deserve any forgiveness. Tilla can absolutely live her life and live it well without ever forgiving her father and I don't like how this book simplifies surviving an estranged parent-kid relationship into all this burden, still, onto Tilla. Like her father can rot for all I care and she can never speak to him again? And I didn’t understand her not forgiving Hessan in comparison OR telling him he should be with Diana because he can still go on to date neither girl and discover other relationships he's fully invested in instead? Maybe the bigger issue is that I didn’t like how uncritically pro-Christian this book ended up. It was way too trite and undeserved for the characters. And trauma isn't something that just "makes you stronger" and that constant messaging is wildly irresponsible.


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theliteraryphoenix's review

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dark emotional reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

Hurricane Summer is a book filled deeply with pain.

It is the opposite of a Disney movie.  It is cruel and Tilla is naïve and kind and out or her element, which everyone in the story uses against her.  It is a heartbreaking book with a very specific story and I appreciate so much that it exists.  Hurricane Summer is the type of book we need when we talk about representation in books because this is a Caribbean story, a Black story, and one I’ve never seen before… which means those with lived experiences like Tilla’s haven’t seen either.  And it is so important they are represented and know they are no alone.

Bromfield’s writing is gut-wrenching, doubly so considering it’s a debut.  It’s evident that she’s spilled her heart on to the page, written this story in her own blood.  Tilla’s story is fictional, but at the same time, it feels incredibly personal.  Hurricane Summer doesn’t hold back – it will cut your heart out and make you angry and leave you feeling helpless.

I loved it, in that I appreciated it so much but I hurt every time I sat down to read.

The language is beautiful.  The integrated Patois may be an obstacle for some readers.  I personally didn’t find it challenging and you get more used to it as you read.  Bromfield includes a glossary at the beginning of the book so readers are ready for the language.  Author often clean up regional dialects and foreign languages in books, but the inclusion of Patois added depth and realism to the story.  I liked that Bromfield didn’t anglicize it.  I know some readers will struggle, but this book isn’t really for those readers.  It isn’t for me.

The story moved forward quickly, piling one heartbreak after another until the hurricane arrived, literally and metaphorically.  This is one of those books with characters that come to life, even though many of them will upset readers as much as they upset Tilla.  Other than how broken I feel now that I’ve finished it… I loved it.  Hurricane Summer reminded me of my privilege as it highlighted Tilla’s.  It made me uncomfortable.  It was really good.

I wholeheartedly recommend Hurricane Summer, but I know some readers won’t like the style, will struggle with the Patois, or will find Tilla frustrating.  That’s okay – this book may not be for you.  But I really encourage readers to give it a try because it is powerful and devastating.

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