I just read two books that swept me away from all my worries and transported me into two different places. I love reading!

Hurricane Summer

Hurricane Summer is Toronto author Asha Bromfield’s debut novel, and it was a great read, although I will say I was bit stressed out until something I was dreading came to be.  

We meet main character Tilla as she and her younger sister leave their mom in Toronto to spend the summer with their often-absent father in Jamaica. Tilla has spent her whole life trying to get her dad to love her, but every six months, her dad leaves Tilla and Mia and their mother, and returns to where his heart belongs – on the Caribbean island.

“Tilla dreads the idea of seeing him again, but longs to discover what life in Jamaica has always held for him. In an unexpected turn of events, Tilla is forced to face the storm that unravels in her own life as she learns about the dark secrets that lie beyond the veil of paradise – all in the midst of an impending hurricane.”

There is quite the culture shock for both Tilla and the reader in Hurricane Summer. I found the behaviour of some of the girl cousins terrible – I would have stuck to the boy cousins – and the adults are awful. Much like Tilla, I found the racism among her family members shocking and hard to deal with. I think my mouth dropped as often as Tilla’s did.

Also interesting was the idea of rich and poor between Jamaica and Canada, and how we forget how lucky we are in Canada. We don’t, for example, have to worry about whether we can afford to go to school or the fact we have shoes. Bromfield does a great job in helping Tilla – and the reader – understand the difference between low-income in Toronto and poor in Jamaica.

Despite the truly terrible things Tilla has to endure at the hands of family and “friends”, the story truly was a “powerfully coming-of-age story,” and a great read.

Hurricane Summer is from Raincoast Books and Wednesday Books and retails for $25.99.

Haven Point

Set on the coast of Maine, generations of families escaped to Haven Point every summer to golf, sail and attend events, which are the same year after year. In 1944, outsider Maren Larsen, who is doing her part for the war effort as a nurse, is swept off her feet by Dr. Oliver Demarest, whose family has a summer home on Haven Point. The story switches between 1944; 1970, as Maren and Oliver try to deal with their independent 17-year-old daughter Annie who has fallen for a young man they don’t approve of and by the time summer is out, a tragedy will strike the family; and 2008, when Annie’s daughter, Skye, arrives on the Maine coast to help spread her mom’s ashes.

“Maren knows that her granddaughter inherited Annie’s view of Haven Point…But Maren also knows that Annie never told Skye the whole truth about what happened during that fateful summer.”

Haven Point was another quick read: I finished it in a couple of days. I liked many of the characters on the pages, particularly Maren who we get to know the longest and see things from her point of view.

The book had it all – great characters who are so alive – flaws and all – a community that Annie and Skye consider snobbish and petty, who some definitely are, as well as some pretty great scenes: I laughed hard at the part with the monkey and a cried when tragedy struck.

Haven Point is by Virginia Hume and Raincoast Books. It retails for $37.99.

Books were provided by Raincoast Books for an honest review. The opinions are my own.