Page Count 384
Publication date April 2021
-Six years ago, three Long Island teenagers were murdered—their drowned bodies discovered with sand dollars placed over their eyes. The mystery of the drowning summer was never solved, but as far as the town’s concerned, Evelyn Mackenzie’s father did it. His charges were dropped only because Evelyn summoned a ghost to clear his name. She swore never to call a spirit again. She lied.
For generations, the family of Mina Zanetti, a former friend of Evelyn, has worked as mediums, using the ocean’s power to guide the dead to their final resting place. But as sea levels rise, the ghosts grow more dangerous and Mina has been shut out of the family business. When Evelyn performs another summoning that goes horribly wrong, the two girls must navigate their growing attraction to each other while solving the mystery of who was really behind the drowning summer…before the line between life and death dissolves for good.
This is my second C L Herman novel. I read and enjoyed The Devouring Gray, though not quite enough to pick up the sequel, but the synopsis for The Drowning Summer called out to me.
The first thing to strike me, was that there was so much emphasis on the characters being white. The initial descriptor for EVERY character is ‘white’ and in the cases of some minor characters that was the only description given. I don’t think I’ve ever read another book where the first priority at each mention of a new person is to immediately designate race. I found it jarring. Fine if its important to CLH that we envision the MCs as white but why can’t the reader atleast choose how to imagine a shopkeep or passing stranger?
I really liked the setting, a small coastal town with big secrets- whats not to love? Herman depicts Sand Dollar Cove beautifully and ties a wonderful bond between her characters and the ocean.
Told in third from the perspectives of Mina and Evelyn, The Drowning Summer is a tale of secrets, souls and summer love. A YA that focuses on building relationships between quirky teenaged outsiders and their broken yet loving families.
Although at times their awkward, stubborn behaviour was painful to read, I was endeared to both Mina and Evelyn. The bi rep is a focus of the book and whilst I felt the conversations around it were cookie cutter basic I still enjoyed the inevitable connection between them.
The mystery of the drowning summer murders and the ghosts rising six years later kept me invested in the story, I wasn’t a big fan of the ending but Herman did a good job of dropping new secrets along the way.
Middle of the road for me, but worthy of a sunny afternoon escape.