Image Credits: SmashWords
When Brian first sent me a copy of Summer of Sharona well before it was printed, I knew it was going to to be good. Just a few weeks prior I finished reading his other book, Purple Ducks and really loved it. Purple Ducks was a non-fiction spiritual book. Summer of Sharona was a bit more of my preferred genre — young adult.
I was blown away by Summer of Sharona. I couldn’t put it down.The beginning of the novel stole my heart as I saw a young Ashley struggle to cope with growing up, especially in the midst of her family troubles, such as her father’s abusive nature.Being 16 is hard enough as it is.
Perhaps her tough childhood is part of the reason why Ashley strives to appear older than she is. When she attends Disco Night at the White Sox game with her Aunt Claire,Claire frequently reminds Ashley that just because she looks older doesn’t mean she can’t hang around more people her own age, a piece of advice Ashley quickly ignores as she goes off to meet an older player and arrange a date.
But when Ashley shows up for her date a few days later, it is anything but what she expected. The experience further ages a young Ashley and leaved her confused and nearly traumatized. Ashley may be forced out of town to grow up and take on responsibilities she’s not quite ready for. All as a result of one night filled with unforeseen, unwanted events.
The only thing Ashley has in her life to keep her strong is her next door neighbor, Ryan. Ryan’s always been by her side as he heard the violence, heartbreak, and trauma through the paper-thin walls. While Ashley failed to acknowledge him in the past, she quickly learns to lean on Ryan support and begins to see him in whole new ways she never would’ve knew possible in the past. He becomes her foundation.
Summer of Sharona is a novel that chronicles pain and hardships during a summer in the 1970’s,but more than that — it covers strength. While I certainly never grew up in the kind of environment Ashley was forced to — I connected very strongly with her. She is a strong woman who made some bad decisions, but had to pay worst consequences for events she ultimately had no control over. It’s easy to take the blame for these things and to beat ourselves up over them. But we are not to blame for the faults or wrong doing of others. And even in these bad situations we can always come out on top and see and feel hope. Sometimes we just need good friends, prayers, and a faith. A little bit of faith can go a long way.