Speaking of Summer

Kalisha Buckhanon | July 2019

Whew, this one will be tough to review without giving up spoilers! This story bares a truth that is visible from the beginning but, is tough to see. The story is centered around Autumn, a young, black, creative woman struggling to maintain her business and sanity after her sister, Summer, disappears one night from the roof of their Harlem apartment building. We follow Autumn, learning about her childhood trauma surrounding her mothers death, casual drug use and sex with friends she encounters along the way, and how she came to be having an affair with her sisters boyfriend. 😳

Very similar to Queenie, Autumn presents as being alone in the world, attempting to come of age, while suffering the negative impact of unresolved trauma from her past. Same as Queenie, Speaking of Summer has a strong supporting cast; friends, neighbors and even detectives assigned to her sisters case, all support Autumn in her search for truth about herself and what happened to her sister on that fateful night. Unlike Queenie, I actually like Autumn and don’t find her to be a self hating, self-sabotaging, casually racist, insufferable psycho slut. Both books tell a story of young black women dealing with trauma in a world that doesn’t allow them to acknowledge that trauma.

Mental health is certainly a buzz topic these days and negatively, I think it’s desensitized us to the idea of true mental health. Self care isn’t just logging off social media, bubble baths and drinking lemon water. Its not ignoring your responsibilities and holding the rest of us accountable for changing to accommodate your hurt. It’s identifying the people/pain/experiences in your past (or maybe present!) that hurt you and reconciling your feelings so that you end the cycle of hurt. It’s understanding that maybe your body chemistry/mind works differently than others and in order to be productive/present/seek enjoyment, you may need weekly coaching and for Gods sake, a pill…maybe 3. The heroines in Queenie and Speaking were self motivated to get help. Maybe for someone else it’s their children or mate..whatever. Knock it out. Do the things that get you right. I would encourage anyone to consistently seek better health.

Though it gets me in trouble from time to time, I still find value in starting a book without reading reviews or detailed summaries that may give up plots or specific details. It allows me to experience stories as they unfold, from my unique perspective. This is probably why the red herring here, took me over a bit slowly. I appreciated that because I think it’s the way the author intended. Probably some triggers here but, you decide. Autumn is really cool and I would love to visit her one day in the future to see how far she’s evolved. I think she’s one of those people you meet mid-crisis and leave her life thinking she’ll never get her shit together to discover 20 years later she’s perfectly well adjusted.

The writing here is very beautiful and I particularly loved the way she developed the characters. They are all so textured. I will definitely be adding more of this writer to my TBR list! And, need I mention, the cover art is BOMB?! #GoodBook 29 of 36


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