Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Book Review: Invincible Summer by Hannah Moskowitz


Noah’s happier than I’ve seen him in months. So I’d be an awful brother to get in the way of that. It’s not like I have some relationship with Melinda. It was just a kiss. Am I going to ruin Noah’s happiness because of a kiss?

Across four sun-kissed, drama-drenched summers at his family’s beach house, Chase is falling in love, falling in lust, and trying to keep his life from falling apart. But some girls are addictive....


The Short Version:
A great blend of light and hard emotion, with an unflinching realism and raw voice, Invincible Summer does a remarkable job of chronicling the life of one teenage boy across four summers. The transitions between the summers are smooth and clear, and the overall development in not only Chase but all the characters is astounding in scope and handled fantastically. The writing is easy and gives a strong voice to Chase, and the playout of the plot has so many twists and is filled with small intricacies that add up to something heartwrenching and beautiful.

The Extended Version:
Chase is likable from the start, a great brother and son, and easy to get along with. He’s intelligent and funny, starting out on the cusp of really hitting the teenage coming of age issues while still holding a certain softness and innocence. His love for his family is clear, and his yearning for his older brother, Noah, to stick around more says so much about his character early on. With each passing summer, Chase grows and learns, and his character development from start to finish is stark and vivid. The motivations and causes, the reactions and implications, were all handled beautifully and poignantly. Chase’s mindset and emotions changed not only with each new year as expected but also from the events that take place.

Noah is a character that most definitely will get a different reaction from every reader. Some will find reasons to dislike him, while others will be completely unable to no matter how much they might want to. He is seemingly flighty, but perceptive and bold in his actions. The dynamic between Noah and Chase plays a strong role in this book and is handled beautifully, showing both the good and bad of it, and nailing the push and pull. Even through Chase’s eyes, Noah’s character is well rounded, fully dimensional, and shines as something all his own. There is intrigue about him from the start, and the full scope of his actions and desires come to light with each passing summer.

Melinda, too, plays a very clear role in this book and is a multifaceted character. She has a depth that can't be described easily, much of which even Chase doesn’t completely understand, especially early on. She slips in and out of the story at just the right time, and her characterization is raw and gritty. She forces Chase to grow up in some unexpected ways, and forces him to accept and face some things that really drive his own development. Melinda is as memorable character as Chase and Noah, and there is a playout within the relationship of these three that is handled carefully yet poignantly.

The rest of the rather large cast of characters is also well defined, each one standing out in their own way. Chase’s parents very clearly love their children, and though even early on there is some tension between them, both are devoted to their children. Chase’s younger siblings, too, play a large role, from deaf but fantastically well done Gideon to Claudia, who goes through her own coming of age type plotline that shows up at just the right moments. The Hathaways—the family that has the beach house next to Chase’s and who also spend their summers there—have a great dynamic with them and also a great sibling set that plays in and out of Chase’s in a memorable, unique way.

There is a very strong family component to this book that not only builds Chase’s character but also the plot. Moskowitz does a remarkable job blending this element with everything else, and each new summer brings something unexpected and changing. The entire plot is played out only during the summers, with smooth transitions between each. The summarization of the in between eleven months is well scripted, with important parts being slipped in at just the right moment without ever taking away from the momentum and progression of the plot itself.

This book holds an array of issues and situations, some unexpected and some predictable yet their purpose is clear. It is emotional and raw, gutting and gripping, but Moskowitz doesn’t hold anything back. From the sex to the language to the emotions and fights, she includes everything a teenage boy would experience, think and go through. Chase’s narrative is completely spot on, absolutely unique to him while being readable and enjoyable for a range of ages and both male and female readers. There are several very poignant scenes that stand out, leaving a long lasting impression.

Also notable in this book is how smoothly the work of Camus is slipped in, never once pulling the reader out of the overall story. The quotes are completely relevant, and also give a great insight into the characters and their deeper thoughts. Not only is this addition unique, it’s well handled and not there just to try to get attention.

The writing is easy to follow, smooth in flow, and so often, Moskowitz speaks volumes in a few well done sentences. Rich in subtext, but with enough to make it clear what’s between the lines, this is a quick read page wise but astounding and in depth in scope. Not once did I stop to question something, nor did I ever feel like things were rushed unnecessarily. The pacing is steady, mixing powerful and emotional scenes with easier, lighter ones. Filled with banter and humor, Moskowitz breaks the tension at just the right moment and throws in plenty of softer scenes that will give the reader a beak before pushing on to some completely heartbreaking scenes that drive things to the final outcome.

From the well handled, stunning and emotional plot, to the smooth writing, and rounding out with a wide cast of very deeply developed characters and bold dynamics, Invincible Summer is a gorgeous coming of age that holds nothing back. This is a book that will leave a lasting impression and worm its way into the reader’s mind, where the full scope and extent of things gets stronger as time goes by. With unadulterated emotion and realism to tie everything together, and a very sympathetic and intricate protagonist, Moskowitz will reach a range of readers with this one.

Source: Simon and Schuster Galley Grab 
Reading level: Young Adult 
Paperback: 288 pages 
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: April 19, 2011


  1. oh wow...your review is so beautifully articulate! i finished the book yesterday and had very similar opinions :)

  2. You are so, so eloquent. It's amazing. And this review makes me want to have this book in front of me rightnowrightnowrightnow. Sigh. Guess I'll have to wait a few weeks to get it ;)

  3. Thanks for the review, I've been looking forward to reading this one!

  4. This sounds like a book I would enjoy - thanks for bringing it to my attention!

  5. I LOVED this book! I'm glad you felt so strongly about it too. It was amazing. Fabulous review :D