Wednesday, June 28, 2023

The Best Summer of Our Lives by Rachel Hauck: Book Review

  *Book received for consideration. All thoughts are my own.

Twenty years ago, the summer of '77 was supposed to be the best summer of Summer Wilde's life. She and her best friends, Spring, Autumn, and Snow--the Four Seasons--had big plans.

But those plans never had a chance. After a teenage prank gone awry, the Seasons found themselves on a bus to Tumbleweed, "Nowhere," Oklahoma, to spend eight weeks as camp counselors. All four of them arrived with hidden secrets and buried fears, and the events that unfolded in those two months forever altered their friendships, their lives, and their futures.

Now, thirtysomething, Summer is at a crossroads. When her latest girl band leaves her in a motel outside Tulsa, she is forced to face the shadows of her past. Returning to the place where everything changed, she soon learns Tumbleweed is more than a town she never wanted to see again. It's a place for healing, for reconciling the past with the present, and for finally listening to love's voice.

Rachel Hauck ( is an award-winning, New York TimesUSA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. She is a double RITA finalist, and a Christy and Carol Award winner. Her book Once Upon a Prince, first in the Royal Wedding series, was filmed for an Original Hallmark movie. A graduate of Ohio State, Rachel lives in sunny central Florida with her husband and ornery cat.

Rachel Hauck is an author who I feel tells a very different type of story than any others in Christian fiction that I can think of. Yes, she has beautiful messages of faith and wonderfully written characters, but with an added element of spirituality that sets them apart. While in some ways, this felt a little different than others I have read from her in the past- in those ways, it was very much the same. 

The Best Summer of Our Lives is a dual timeline set mostly in 1977, but with jumps to 1997 throughout. It tells the story of the summer of 1977 and how it changed a group of four friends- The Seasons- for life. Throughout the course of the story, it not only jumps back and forth between the years, but also between these four friends. I sometimes struggle when there are that many characters to keep track of, and this was no exception. As such, it took me a little bit to really get into the story... but once I was in, I couldn't put it down. There were times when I wasn't the biggest fan of how some characters reacted to things... but this definitely allowed for some growth throughout the story. This was more than anything a story about growing up, friendship and family... with just a little bit of romance thrown in, but certainly not the focus. And of course, it was a story about faith though I won't say too much about that so as not to give any spoilers.

Content to keep in mind: Looking at the cover, I definitely expected this to be a more lighthearted summer read... but it definitely was not that. While there were no graphic details given on the page, it does bring up the real-life rape and murder of three young girls at a summer camp in 1977. It also makes several mentions of Ted Bundy. The story also deals with grief and unplanned pregnancy. While these topics certainly may be heavier, they were handled with grace. 

Overall, this was a beautiful read! If you're looking for a good coming of age story with Christian perspective, this is certainly one to check out. 


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