Review of “Hello Summer” by Mary Kay Andrews
As the front cover image shows, I picked this gem up from the bargain table at Barnes and Noble. It was published in 2020 by an author with a reputation of writing books for summer reading, which I assume means mindless entertainment. The mindless part is certainly true …
First, the writing is a little wordy and, like most of the books I’ve reviewed, it weakens after the halfway point. Typos and clumsy sentences increase but never become a problem for the reader. I just notice those kinds of things. But one thing that was noticeable was the author’s apparent recognition that she had rambled too long and had to wrap it up, as if it were Labor Day and she was only half finished.
I don’t think there is a plot per se, but rather a series of inconveniences, culminating in a convenient story worthy of national headlines. (The central character is a newspaper journalist between jobs.) The character meanders along like the hot summer weather in the Florida panhandle where the story takes place, doing all the things you might expect for a breezy summer read: finding romance, facing past relationships gone off the rails, working hard on the big story, solving a mysterious death through tenacity and brilliant insight.
The author must have recognized that the story was going nowhere, so a bogeyman and a hero were tossed in to create a sense of anxiety and welcome relief, even a tragic ending for the hero. It sounds great but it doesn’t work. Maybe no one notices when they’re reading a book on the porch on beach in Florida on a sultry summer day.
There was a lot of descriptions of flowers using names I didn’t recognize. That would probably appeal to the right crowd, like reading nineteenth century English novels (e.g. Pride and Prejudice). There certainly was a homey feeling to the story but it didn’t quite fit, and maybe that was the intent of the author — big city girl doesn’t fit into her small town roots.
But this girl decides that she can make her life just as challenging in NW Florida as in Atlanta or New York.
I can’t really recommend this book but, like the characters, neither is it egregious …