Invincible Summer by Alice Adams: A Review

The high today is supposed to reach 86 degrees, so even though we've got a whole month before summer officially begins, it feels like it's already here. And I'm totally okay with that because 1) IT'S SUMMER HELLO and 2) what better time is there to read a book called Invincible Summer?

(How many times can I say "summer" in one paragraph?)

I requested this book from Netgalley a month or so ago, and it's got all the makings of a beach read plus a little more substance. For my complete review, keep reading...

Gorgeous cover!
Invincible Summer: A Summary

Four friends. Twenty years. One unexpected journey.Inseparable throughout college, Eva, Benedict, Sylvie, and Lucien graduate in 1997, into an exhilarating world on the brink of a new millennium. Hopelessly in love with playboy Lucien and eager to shrug off the socialist politics of her upbringing, Eva breaks away to work for a big bank. Benedict, a budding scientist who's pined for Eva for years, stays on to complete his PhD in physics, devoting his life to chasing particles as elusive as the object of his affection. Siblings Sylvie and Lucien, never much inclined toward mortgages or monogamy, pursue more bohemian existences-she as an aspiring artist and he as a club promoter and professional partyer. But as their twenties give way to their thirties, the group struggles to navigate their thwarted dreams. Scattered across Europe and no longer convinced they are truly the masters of their fates, the once close-knit friends find themselves filled with longing for their youth- and for one another. Broken hearts and broken careers draw the foursome together again, but in ways they never could have imagined. 

A dazzling depiction of the highs and lows of adulthood,Invincible Summer is a story about finding the courage to carry on in the wake of disappointment, and a powerful testament to love and friendship as the constants in an ever-changing world.

Invincible Summer: What I Think

This is one of those books that makes me kind of antsy. I read it and I see all the places where the characters miss out and I just want to reach into the page and give them all a little shake. For clarification, I don't necessarily dislike this kind of reader experience, as negative as it might sound; it's just that I know what the author is doing and I wish she would do it faster. But, alas, then there wouldn't be a story to tell, would there? It's a catch-22 and I'm still working out how I feel about it.

Sylvie, Lucien, Benedict, and Eva are four best friends who spend twenty years of their lives working through their (complicated) relationships with each other and with themselves. There are broken hearts, addictions, one-night stands, and missed opportunities...but along with the messy stuff, there are also strong elements of unconditional love and forgiveness, as well as the timeless idea that it's never too late to choose the right path. Still, I struggled to fully connect with the story. Between the beautiful moments, there is lots and LOTS of brokenness. It's a realistic depiction of life and love and friendship, particularly friendships that span many decades of adulthood. And while I'm fond of this kind of storytelling, it was more difficult than I'd hoped to see the whole novel through. It has the potential to be a really incredible story and the writing is lovely. All in all, Adams has crafted a solid book. But something wasn't quite clicking for me, and that something was Eva.

Slyvie, Lucien, and Benedict are all distinct and lively in their own ways. Their sections of the book are filled with the complexity and nuance of real people. But Eva seems incredibly one-dimensional in comparison, and since we are seeing the majority of the novel through her (despite the fact that it's written in third-person, not first), it makes the rest of what is truly a rich and enjoyable read feel off-pace and somewhat bland. This is my sole complaint, but since it encompasses so much of the book, I can say that while I would certainly recommend Invincible Summer to others, I'm not likely to read it again myself.

To learn more about Alice Adams and her book, Like her on Facebook. Invincible Summer will be available for sale on June 28th!

Please note, I received a free copy of Invincible Summer in exchange for an honest review.

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