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REVIEW: “Summer Symphony” by Brandon Shire



Martin Zoric had vivid dreams of fatherhood, of a small hand pressed to his, of pink dresses and girlish laughter. Then his wife had a stillbirth and his world fell apart.

He listened to the unwanted apologies, stood by his wife as was expected of him, and kept his façade strong and firm for the entire world to see.

But does he have the strength let go and really grieve?

When Ren Wakahisa landed in Croatia he was hoping to escape the cultural pressures put on him to conform. His family wanted him to forsake love for duty. They viewed his happiness as secondary to familial prosperity.

Does he have the courage to be who he wants to be? Or, will he yield to their wishes?

Summer Symphony is the story of how two men find their answers and what they learn about strength, and grace, and the endurance of love.




In true Brandon Shire custom, Summer Symphony is a harrowing, gracious, bleak, unnerving, thoughtful and challenging story to read.

I’ll admit that it took me a while (until about 50%) to become invested in the story. There’s a large portion of time spent (I’m guessing) trying to connect the reader to MC Martin’s back-story, and that made me impatient for the story to progress.  I needed to know what was going on with Martin now.  I needed to see what was going to happen in his future, but I guess that’s just a personal reaction and others may find no problem with it.

Anyone that’s been through a tragedy knows how hard it is to move forward.  They can recognise the signs of despair or the oh-so-familiar perspective of life BT (Before Tragedy) or AT (After Tragedy).  It’s a sort of marker in someone’s memory bank where all things are recalled as BT or AT, and here, Martin’s life is sliced ever so cleanly between the two when his daughter is stillborn.  So how does someone heal from this?  How do you let go of the grief?

Enter, Ren Wakahisa.  Their courtship is non-existant but they almost immediately find solace in eachother.  Ren’s musical genius reawakens Martin.  It’s a connection most people wouldnt understand.  In fact, to an orchestral novice like myself, the technical descriptions of the ensemble was at times a little too much.  That said, there’s a scene towards the end of the story where the orchestra plays to perfection and I swear I had goosebumps and my heartrate sped up.  The final culmination of their collaboration, the peak or crescendo was perfection.

What I found most interesting and appealing about this story is the relationships.  One of the MCs is bisexual and his relationship with his wife is really heartfelt, but let me be clear – there is no cheating here. It’s hard for me to talk about their relationship without dropping a spoiler, but, I really respected their interpretation on love and commitment.  I adored that this story (as seems to be Shire’s way) follows less traditional pathways.  Real life is never picture-perfect, so reading stories in all their “warts and all” glory suits me just fine.





23006778Title: Summer Symphony
Author: Brandon Shire
Publisher: TPG Books
Pages: 164
Release Date: October 1st, 2014
Purchase Links: Amazon

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This entry was posted on October 4, 2014 by in Contemporary, Musicians, Reviewer: Sue and tagged , , .

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