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One summer can change everything.
Hi, I’m Topher Carlisle: twenty-one, pretty, and fabulous. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself. But let’s get real. Walking the fake-it-til-you-make-it road to independence and self-respect isn’t easy. Especially since my mom’s a deadbeat alcoholic, and most of my family expects me to turn out just as worthless. Oh, and I’m close to losing my college swimming scholarship, so let’s add “dropout” to the list.
My BFF has invited me to stay at her beach house on the shore of Lake Michigan. That’ll give me one summer to make money and figure out what I want to do with my life. So of course I decide to have an affair with my BFF’s married, closeted dad. Because that always works out.
Now I’m homeless, friendless, jobless. Worthless. Just like my family expects, right? Except there’s this great guy, Jace, who sees it differently. He’s got it all together in ways I can only dream of—he’s hot, creative, insightful, understanding. He seems to think I don’t give myself enough credit. And if I don’t watch out, I may start to believe him.
Oh wow. This book. I am not going to lie; it hits you and it hits you hard. There is so much to it that hit home with me, at times too close to home that I had to take as step back but couldn’t because no matter what I couldn’t stop reading.
So I have this story about our boy Topher. Last year I read the short story from the m/m romance group The Field of Someone Else’s Dream. As I read the story of Matt and Chris a side character caught my eye; Topher Carlisle. Upon following the author I had noticed her tweeting about Topher and his story. I had an “ah ha” moment and decided to ask her if that Toper was THE Toper who is friends with Matt and Chris. To my wonderful surprise it was and from that moment, I became a bit obsessed with the boy. I can’t tell you why, it just happened. Well, now, after meeting him I know that as odd as it sounds, I was destined to meet Topher Carlise. To read his story and not only feel for him.
There was an extreme personal and emotional connection for me with this book. So much of Topher could be me in many ways. No, I am not a young bi-racial boy struggling with the screwed up dynamics of his family while having an affair with his BFF’s married/closeted father all why trying to figure his life out. But, the way Topher relates to music and parts of his past hit me hard and yes, did affect my reading experience of this story.
I adored the hell out of Topher, yes I clung to his name after I read it in a very short story but the boy, stole my heart. I loved watching him as he struggled, as he grew and even as he failed. Topher’s back story was heart breaking and the strength that he gains from it was gorgeous. Nothing is black and white, life isn’t made that way and for many of us, we have to fight each day to be what other’s refer to as normal. Did Topher make the best decisions? Eh…probably not but he only did what he could.
I won’t go into great detail about this book, I honestly think it is one to be read and I will shout my love for it off the rooftops to let everyone know to do so. I will say that the affair with the BFF’s dad, not a spoiler, it’s in the blurb was done so well. It was not the best thing for these men to get into and though I know it had to end it still choked me up to watch it happen. More to watch what happened to Topher because of it.
Confession; this author is one of my favorites. I have read everything but one story by her and I love her storytelling but this, this is by far my favorite of all. The beauty and rawness of Topher’s story still, months after reading it hits my so hard that I cannot go over my notes from it. I just can’t. It’s still so strong with me that I can sit her feeling it without looking at a single word from the pages I was lost in. That is a mark of talent for me.
There is something I took from this book, a cause and effect lesson if you will. There is saying in the Master Student class of “I create it all” and oh boy was it ever present in Saugatuck Summer. Topher never ran from the shit that followed him or the shitty citations he got himself into. He met them head on and with some help from a set of fabulous side characters he thrived. Speaking of side characters, um Robin and Geoff really need their own story. Just saying…
Now, I have to talk about Jace…OMG Jace. This man is amazing. I questioned his want to help Topher the way that he does, so truly and so passionately but once you meet him you get lost in him and it’s inevitable that you fall for Jace as he does what he does best, take care, encourage and love the hell out of Topher. To use two words or ‘actions’ to describe Jace…swoon and unf!
This book, I really can’t go into much more without getting spoiliery or emotional. I will admit to there being a scene I did not read. I completely skipped over it when I knew it was coming and have not gone back to read it. I won’t go back and read it and that is strictly for personal reasons. Not that there is anything wrong with it, I just emotionally cannot read it.
Saugatuck Summer is one hell of an intense, gorgeous and wonderful book. I was lost in the tangled weave of Topher and his rocky navigation throughout his summer. I loved him more than I thought possible when I realized he was getting his story and the boy is so with me it’s insane. This is one of those books that I find difficult to review, if you can’t tell, because it did hit so close to home but if there is one thing I could say about this book; read it. Just read it.
Title: Saugatuck Summer
Author: Amelia C. Gormley
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: May 19, 2014
Purchase Links: Riptide