Carol Award: Women’s Fiction: Finalist: Beyond Summer
Title: Beyond Summer
Author: Lisa Wingate
Publisher: Penguin Praise (Ellen Edwards, Editor)
Category: Women’s Fiction
Reviewed by: Deb Ehret
Father Michael says, “…You never know what treasures live inside people until you sit down and listen” (p. 178). In Beyond Summer, readers have the opportunity to meet Sesay, Tam Lambert, and Shasta Reid-Williams. A literacy program at the Summer Kitchen, introduced in an earlier book, brings the three women together and changes their lives and their neighborhood—and teaches them to value themselves.
The summer teaches the women the meaning of friendship and the value of trusting each other—taking them through heartache and bringing them out on the other side.
Sesay is a homeless woman from “Mmm-eye-amm-eee” who knows the yellow Householder houses make families unhappy. She wanders the neighborhood, making friends with the children and sharing her carved wooden figures, but her presence freaks out Shasta, who never sees her and just hears her boys talk about her.
A Choctaw woman now living in Dallas in a yellow Householder house with her husband and two boys, Shasta Reid-Williams tries to keep things together and provide a good life for her boys while her husband is training at the police academy.
Tam Lambert had just turned 18 when her father deserted the family as they were being evicted from their multi-million dollar home.
Imagine a carousel divided in thirds. As each third spins in front of you, you can see the character’s story taking place through her point of view. This is the unique organization Wingate employs to draw the reader into the story and effectively experience the drama in each woman’s life. Particularly interesting is the use of an interview in the closing notes, in which the publisher interviews Wingate and her characters, Tam and Shasta, as they discuss the changes the summer has brought in their lives.
The summer teaches the women the meaning of friendship and the value of trusting each other—taking them through heartache and bringing them out on the other side. An excellent, heart-warming read, Beyond Summer continues the stories begun in many of Lisa Wingate’s previously published books.
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