The Summer We Came to Life by Deborah Cloyed

Summary/Cover Image from Publisher's Website:
Every summer, Samantha Wheland joins her childhood friends—Isabel, Kendra and Mina—on a vacation, somewhere exotic and fabulous. Together with their mixed bag of parents, they've created a lifetime of memories. This year it's a beach house in Honduras. But for the first time, their clan is not complete. Mina lost her battle against cancer six months ago, and the friends she left behind are still struggling to find their way forward without her.

For Samantha, the vacation just feels wrong without Mina. Despite being surrounded by her friends—the closest thing she has to family—Mina's death has left Sam a little lost. Unsure what direction her life should take. Fearful that whatever decision she makes about her wealthy French boyfriend's surprise proposal, it'll be the wrong one.

The answers aren't in the journal Mina gave Sam before she died. Or in the messages Sam believes Mina is sending as guideposts. Before the trip ends, the bonds of friendship with her living friends, the older generation's stories of love and loss, and Sam's glimpse into a world far removed from the one in which she belongs will convince her to trust her heart. And follow it.

As of lately, I have been craving some good adult contemporary. Luckily enough for me, Deborah Cloyed’s The Summer We Came perfectly feed to that craving with its flawed yet complex characters, well-developed storylines, and rich, detailed writing.

Everything has been different for Kendra, Isabel, and Samantha since Mina, the fourth addition to their group, lost her battle with cancer six months ago. Each girl has a different way of dealing with the death. For Kendra, it means throwing herself into her high-powered job and dodging her own personal problems. For Isabel, it also means throwing herself into her work until she loses her job. For Samantha, it means running from country to country, falling in love with a wealthy French man, and looking for answers to life in the journals Mina left her. However, everything is about to change with summer approaching. Since childhood the girls along with Kendra’s and Isabel’s mothers have gone on some type of exotic vacation, but this year Mina won’t be there for the first time ever. Samantha asks, or more accurately begs, to abandon this year’s trip, saying it would be too hard, but soon enough all three girls plus Kendra’s parents, Isabel’s mother, and Mina’s father are in the middle of Honduras. Looking for peace and forgiveness, each person will be faced with coming to term with Mina’s demise and the secrets and struggles they have kept over the years.

As I’ve mentioned countless times before what I love most about adult fiction is the intricate and complex characters that are often introduced. For The Summer We Came to Life, these characters were Kendra, Isabel, Samantha as well as the parental units. Each character presented was diverse, distinctive, and thoroughly likable. More importantly, their feelings over life and death were easy to relate to, especially when it came to the saying “Life’s consolations are love and best friends” that was always supported within the text.

The plot of this book was another high point. The setting was spectacular because of the rich detail added that often made me feel like I was right there, enjoying this exotic location right along with the characters. I also enjoyed seeing the characters share their stories throughout the book, because they often addressed common social and religion issues in a non-preachy and interesting way. It’s easy to say I learned a thing or two within this book!

Deborah Cloyed’s writing was also great for a debut author. I really enjoyed all the layers of detail she put into her characters and storylines as well as the way she seamlessly intermixed past and present invents with Mina and Samantha’s journal entries.

The only aspect of this book that brought it down a notch or two was a certain event that occurred towards the end. I won’t say too much about it due to the fact I don’t want to spoil anything. However, I will say it took a crazy turn, one that I wasn’t expecting and didn’t particularly enjoy. It was just odd and seemed out of place within the rest of the events in the novel.

Even with that, The Summer We Came to Life is still a fantastic debut novel that I’m sure many will come to enjoy. All I can say now is I cannot wait to read more by Deborah!

Grade: B+ 

The Summer We Came to Life is now out!

Source: Publicist at Planned Television Arts- thanks Eric!

To find out more about the author and her books, be sure to visit her website.


  1. This sounds like a great contemporary adult title! Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

    I love that the saying "Life's consolations are love and best friends" was supported a lot in the novel!

  2. Was mesmerized by the cover... want to go swim...


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