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What Dies in Summer

What Dies in Summer

4.2 5
by Tom Wright

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“I did what I did, and that’s on me.” From that tantalizing first sentence, Tom Wright sweeps us up in a tale of lost innocence. Jim has a touch of the Sight. It’s nothing too spooky and generally useless, at least until the summer his cousin L.A. moves in with him and their grandmother. When Jim and L.A. discover the body of a girl,


“I did what I did, and that’s on me.” From that tantalizing first sentence, Tom Wright sweeps us up in a tale of lost innocence. Jim has a touch of the Sight. It’s nothing too spooky and generally useless, at least until the summer his cousin L.A. moves in with him and their grandmother. When Jim and L.A. discover the body of a girl, brutally raped and murdered in a field, an investigation begins that will put both their lives in danger. In the spirit of The Lovely Bones and The Little Friend, What Dies in Summer is a novel that casts its spell on the very first page and leaves an indelible mark.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews - Audio
Youngsters sometimes confront this hard world too soon, coming away scarred or stronger. In Wright's debut literary fiction, teenage James Bonham meets evil one summer. In an era when The Doors are on the radio and fans believe Elvis has grown too fat, James discovers his cousin, Lee Ann, on his grandmother's doorstep, nearly frozen and shocked into muteness. James, his father dead, lives with Gram. His mother, Leah, had moved them from Jacksboro, Texas, to Dallas, only to take up with a boyfriend, Jack, who fancied himself a boxer and used James as a practice punching bag. James and Lee Ann (daughter of Leah's sister, Rachel, and known as L.A. to the family) are almost the same age, old enough to drive, and great friends who are protective of one another. Wright's gift is superb characterization. Churchgoing Gram is firm, loving, accepting and solidly independent. Gram's dear friend Dr. Kepler taught at Southern Methodist but lost all faith when her family was sent to Hitler's ovens. Incidental characters sparkle, like Colossians Odell, a half-mad, street-dwelling basso profundo, and Froggy, neighborhood store clerk. L.A., "something hard and dangerous in her eyes," has been sexually abused by her father, Cam. That damage, and the childhood abuse of Rachel and Leah that still echoes, play out against the murders of three teenage girls. One body, mutilated and staged, is discovered by L.A. and James. Other threads blend into the complex narrative. James desperately wants Diana Chamfort, whose father, Don, is a Dallas police lieutenant leading the murder investigation. James' friend, Dee, a "gentle boy" with artistic talent, is relegated to military school with tragic results. Told from James' point of view, the story moves along believably as James is confused and overwhelmed by family crises, danger from the serial killer and his sexual desire for Diana, only to ultimately learn: "Maybe the big plan didn't call for people being entitled to explanations." A lyrical and realistic study of innocence lost.
Publishers Weekly
A fatherless boy who has “a touch of the Sight” teams up with his only cousin to find a killer in Wright’s seductively suspenseful coming-of-age novel. Teenager James Beaudry lives in Texas with his sage Gram, who has raised him with a stern hand and warm heart. All is bucolic until cousin Lee Ann (“L.A.”) arrives, shaken by some domestic trauma. Just as L.A. warms to life at Gram’s, James has a vision of a dead girl, a vision eerily confirmed when he and L.A. discover the brutalized body of a local girl. Soon James and L.A. discover that someone has been snooping in their house, and that the dead girl they found was just one of a string of murders. Their sleuthing is aided by James’s continued visions of dead girls who impart a cryptic message that could place L.A. in harm’s way. Wright, a practicing psychologist, expertly weaves together a literary tapestry of self-discovery, brutal sadistic violence, custodial battles, and tender, burgeoning sexuality, leaving readers spellbound by a story that delivers on several levels. The author’s impressive, multitiered storytelling talents are on brilliant display in this entrancing, impressive debut. Agent: Victoria Hobbs, A.M. Heath, U.K. (June)
“Starred review. ...Even with its hints of southern gothic and mysticism, this coming-of-age novel keeps its solidly quotidian background. An unusually accomplished and evocative debut, in which what dies is innocence.”
The Daily Mail (UK)
“[What Dies in Summer] builds upon the framework of the conventional modern thriller to fashion something that is much, much more… Beautifully written… this raw, powerful story, with its undertow of dread, heralds the arrival of a major new writer.”
The Guardian (UK)
“A coming-of-age drama with shades of Stand By Me… a moving exploration of the vulnerability of youth, and of tangled family relationships.”
The Sunday Times (UK)
“Practically flawless.”
The Times (UK)
“Elegantly written… an unsettling novel about the loss of innocence.”
Julie Meyerson - New York Times Book Review
“...this accomplished... novel is... a mix of the fey, the fairy tale... and the unspeakably grim.”
New York Times Book Review
...this accomplished... novel is... a mix of the fey, the fairy tale... and the unspeakably grim.— Julie Meyerson
S.J. Watson
“A beautifully written and deeply engaging study of loss and innocence, suffused with chilling dread. A haunting novel, a captivating debut; I loved it.”
John Dufresne
“What Dies in Summer is a harrowing tale of loss, love, death, and unspeakable secrets. And Tom Wright, he can flat-out tell a story. He writes with intelligence, grace, and mettle. He sees what most of us are unable to see and says what we are unwilling to say. What skill, what courage, what a splendid and terrifying debut novel.”
John Boyne
“A compulsive and provocative novel, Tom Wright manages to combine familiar themes of youth—fear, desire, vulnerability and chaos – with a story that both unsettles and intrigues the reader. A narrative voice that’s raw and desperate, a story that grips from start to finish, What Dies In Summer is hugely impressive.”
Nick Cave
“A magnificent novel, not so much about loss of innocence as innocence put through the masher. The story pulsates with a deep dread that would be unbearable if the novel weren't so sweet, funny, sexy and ultimately moving.”
Sam Taylor
“An erotic, compelling and deeply assured debut, midway between Ellroy and Faulkner. It evokes so precisely the beauty and sadness of first love and lost innocence.”
Bonnie Jo Campbell
“You will find fascinating and powerful women in these pages, demanding female relatives as well as local eccentrics. Biscuit, as our likable narrator is called, has a heck/hell of a year navigating family cruelty, neighborhood murders, his own sexual desire, and even a bear attack, but he always listens thoughtfully to those who would advise him. By the end of the story, life no longer offers Biscuit (or anyone) safety, but Wright shows beautifully how a boy can learn to become a good and capable man.”

Product Details

Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.50(d)

Meet the Author

Tom Wright is a practicing psychologist and received his doctorate from Texas A&M University. This is his first book. He lives in Texarkana, Texas.

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What Dies in Summer: A Novel 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Earthunderair More than 1 year ago
I usually don't like to read novels that have so much child abuse in them, but the characters in this novel come to life and draw you into each of their stories. You find yourself knowing what must have happened long before it is revealed in the book, but you still find yourself pulling for this cast of characters. This novel brings hope to life.
BookwormReflects More than 1 year ago
What Dies in Summer By Tom Wright Jim Beaudry is a teenage boy whose dreams are haunted by a young woman, a dead young woman. One day Jim and his cousin L.A. stumble upon the dead body of the girl that has been haunting Jim’s dreams she had been brutally raped and murdered. Over the course of one summer these teenagers who have been through so much in their short lives find out that there is more hell that they must eventually endure. Tom Wright creates two characters whose lives are so troubled that you cannot help but feel for them and hope that they will be able to pull through this new situation and hopefully find a better life in the end. But this is not all, the author creates a world you can envision easily, his scenes are flawless in there execution pulling you into the moment and even though there is a touch of supernatural it is subtle making it all the more believable. I am not sure who I would recommend this book to, it is a brilliant blend of horror and mystery with touches of romance and young adult, and you will either love it or hate it. As for me I enjoyed it immensely.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very interesting and good read. Nice first book. Looking forward to more from thie author
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great debut novel. I read this in two sittings (had to eat...). A marvelous Southern tale.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago