**I received this book in exchange for an honest review**
When I first read the book blurb for Summer Day, I have to admit I did not think I would find the book all that interesting. Social history has never really been my cup of tea when it comes to history books and that’s true even for novels. Moreover, I did not care all that much for the time period. When it comes to British history, I usually enjoy stories set sometime between 1776-1945 and Summer Day is just outside that time range. Despite my reservations, I decided to give the book a read anyway. Much to my surprise, I enjoyed it a great deal.
When I read historical fiction, I like to feel as if I am learning something. This is more difficult with social history as it tends to be more amorphous, and I generally prefer stories that revolve around a documented event. While Summer Day doesn’t revolve around a well-known historical event, it was still a compelling read because it revolves around an interesting ethical dilemma. It would be difficult to explain that dilemma without getting into spoilers but long story short, the protagonist feels obligated to leave home following a traumatic incident. His family, and the larger community, are somewhat in the dark as to why he has left and the process by which they discover the truth gives the novel a great deal of narrative power.
In some respects, it reminded me of the old story about the blindfolded men and the elephant. By the middle of the story, the blindfolds have been lifted, and the people who “groped” the elephant are forced to confront their initial assumptions. By the end of the story, however, they are doing much more than revisiting their old assumptions: they are rushing to avert a crisis brought on, in part, by their bad assumptions. I think it makes for a great storyline and I really liked the way everything came together at the end. Additionally, I enjoyed the depiction of rural life in the mid 20th century and have to applaud the author for his research.
Having said all that, the ending of Summer Day was a tad too abrupt in my opinion. I think the problem could be remedied easily enough, an epilogue could help provide a bit more closure, and have no major complaints otherwise. Assuming the author can craft a good epilogue, I think Summer Day may end up being remember as one of his strongest works. The book is a quick, fast-paced read and I recommend it to readers interested in ethical dilemmas, post WWII British history, and coming-of-age stories.