Snotchocheez's Reviews > One Summer

One Summer by David Baldacci
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Dec 15, 11

Read from December 11 to 13, 2011

If you ever find yourself driving on I-95 from North to South Carolina, you encounter garish billboards announcing the approach of one the kitschiest, tackiest, most embarrassingly banal totems to Americana ever conceived: "South of the Border". You can see the garish 100-ft neon'd sombrero'd "Juan" from several miles away from the N-S Carolina border, beckoning weary road travelers to its promise of, in full Las Vegas splendor, a slice of Mexican Nirvana in Nowheresville, SC.You pull off the interstate and discover what appears on the surface a Fantasyland: huge amusement park, several themed restaurants, hotels, souvenir emporia, etc. You take a walk through the amusement park and discover that despite its blazing neon, all of the rides (with the exception of the ginormous Ferris wheel, affording panoramic views of...absolutely nothing) are cast-off rejects from the touring carnival that comes through your hometown every year...the "magnificent 72-hole mini-golf course!" advertised on every billboard is nothing more than a brightly lit converted gas station repair bay with rickety 2 x 4s painted in Day-Glo and vaguely resembling something golf-like (if you have the imagination of, say, a really travel-weary 4-year-old entranced by the last 100 miles of billboards); the souvenir mall replete with Juan keychains, postcards, vuvuzelas, maracas, typical crap with a Mexicano flair. You choose the "world famous!" Mexican restaurant, with billboard-promised prandial delights like "World's Largest Burrito" and "World's Best Margarita", wait an hour for a gum-chomping, disaffected Nadine or Jolene or Peggy Sue to take your order for said burrito and maggie, dig in and slurp and experience the worst food you've ever deigned to shovel down your gullet, Mexican or otherwise. By the time you feel realize you've been completely taken for a fool, you've spent entirely too much time and money on what amounts to cleverly marketed roadside garbage.



Oh yeah...book review..."One Summer". David Baldacci's departure from the "legal thriller" genre, is his latest attempt at serious drama. This is, quite honestly, the worst book I've read in the last five years. With about as much subtlety as a root canal without anesthesia, Baldacci beats his readers over the head with faux tearjerkiness, slathers on heaping dollops of marmalade-soaked feel-good hoo-ha, strives to serve up a Paula Deen pecan-encrusted Blueberry-Bourbon Cobbler, and in fact delivers the literary equivalent of South of the Border's "World's Greatest Burrito": heartburn-and-headache-inducing pre-digested empty-caloried pablum, allowing him (like, no doubt, South of the Border's owners) to laugh all the way to the bank.



***shudder alert***



(gulp) The plot: Jack Armstrong (Iraq and Afghanistan vet, thrice Purple Heart/Bronze Star-decorated), a building contractor in Cleveland with a loving wife and three kids, is on his death bed with some mystery disease (never revealed...nice way to do your homework, DB); as Christmas approaches, Jack tries to reconcile his life and steel himself for the great beyond. To try to inspire Jack to keep on living his wife Lizzie tells him that he wants them all to take a Summer vacation to her childhood home on the beach in...ahem...South Carolina. Then, on Christmas Eve (this isn't a spoiler, mind you...this is all provided helpfully on the jacket blurb) Lizzie rushes out to get Jack pain meds...and *gasp* dies in a car crash. Then, miraculously, Jack recovers from his mystery disease, and takes his surly teenage daughter Mikki, tween son Cory, two-y.o. Jack Jr., and 60+ y.o. Vet friend Sammy down to SC to rebuild "The Palace" (Lizzie's childhood beachfront home, replete with lighthouse, as advertised on the book's billboar...er...cover) and, in effect rebuild his life, his relationship with his kids, and be closer to the memory of Lizzie. (ahhhh...the stuff made-for-Lifetime Channel-movies are made of) (blecch)



The manuscript for this fluffy goo, without Baldacci's lawyerly fiction cachet, wouldn't so much as take up space in a third-rate publishing house's rejection pile. Evidently, Baldacci's trying to expand his horizons (like fellow lawyer-cum-novelists Grisham and Turow) but his effort drowns its unsuspecting victims in a vat of "World's Greatest Margarita" festooned with floating detritus and Mexican tchotchkes at a glorified South Carolina rest area. Simply gawdawful.
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message 1: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Thanks for your hilarious review. I'm a Baldacci fan but I think I'll skip this one.


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