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Speaking of Summer

3.33  ·  Rating details ·  253 ratings  ·  72 reviews
The new novel from the author of Upstate, one of five books selected by the National Book Foundation for the inaugural Literature for Justice Program: a literary thriller about one woman's desperate search for her missing twin sister, a multi-layered mystery set against the neighborhoods of Harlem.

On a cold December evening, Autumn Spencer's twin sister Summer walks to the
Kindle Edition, 288 pages
Published July 30th 2019 by Counterpoint
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3.33  · 
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 ·  253 ratings  ·  72 reviews

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i’m not sure i would categorize this as a “literary thriller” or even “fast-paced” as the synopsis claims—to read this one quickly does a disservice to its subject matter, which is more important and necessary than most books classified as “thrillers” typically contain.

it is, technically, a missing person novel, but it is also a missing self novel, about family and mental illness and the aftereffects of childhood trauma, about the everyday burdens of being a woman in a culture s
I won a free copy of this book through Goodreads Giveaways.

The blip is better than the book.
"The new novel from the author of Upstate, one of five books selected by the National Book Foundation for the inaugural Literature for Justice Program: a literary thriller about one woman's desperate search for her missing twin sister, a multi-layered mystery set against the neighborhoods of Harlem."
Speaking of Summer is not a book about Summer Spencer, but her sister, Autumn, who for half of the book is
This is another book where the star rating is going to be very hard.

What drew me to this book was the earnest anticipation of Russell from Ink and Paper blog and the many accolades my GR friends have given Buckhanon's earlier novels Upstate and Conception. From my understanding Buckhanon hits hard on those topics that hit our community hard. She does this in a way that reads like poetry but in a language that is at the eye level of the reader.

With the opening passages of this book I felt that
Aug 04, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2019-audiobooks, 2019
I didn’t hate this book but the blurb made me feel like I wasn’t reading the same book!

This is NOT a thriller. I had sorta guessed the twist relatively early.

The bulk of the book is finding oneself and dealing with trauma.

Well written but the blurb was incredibly misleading.
Mar 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One hundred pages into this book I was ready to give up. I had decided the main character, Autumn, was a messed up fruitcake that I had had enough of. But I plowed along and I am glad I did. Slowly Autumn and the cast of characters grew on me and I began to get a hint of the plot twist to come.
There's a lot here ... the complexity of family dynamics, the ways the mind protects itself, the diversity, indifference and dangers of urban life ... but there's also attachment, strength and hope for t
Erin Glover
Aug 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Autumn’s twin sister Summer has gone missing from the roof of their Harlem brownstone, and no one cares. The papers don’t mention her since she’s not rich and White. Even Autumn believes the culprit is a Black man.
He was convenient, the distraction from so much more to be scared of in the world. Even I believed in the Black boogeyman I had been told all my life was near, waiting for us at corners and alleys and rooftops.
But what if the real bogeyman is herself?

“We riot when Black men are shot.
Jul 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Speaking of Summer opens with a prologue that draws you in instantly; there’s just something about its first person narrative that pulls you in, makes it feel as though said character wants to tell you, the reader, their story.

I wouldn’t class this novel as “fast-paced” as the blurb states, but it certainly addressed the themes mentioned: urban peril, victim invisibility and what it means to be a black woman in America and societies attitude towards them. Autumn was a very complex character. Fr
Jul 27, 2019 rated it liked it
If you're looking for a mystery, it's best you look elsewhere for the only thing truly mysterious about this novel is the reliability -- or lack thereof -- of the narrator, and it is a far cry from that which it is described. Leisurely paced, with an almost dreamlike quality, the overall effect is disorienting -- I'll give it that much, and taken for what it is -- an intimate exploration of grief coupled with mental illness as well as a visceral examination of the way in which the crimes against ...more
Aug 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ryfo-2019
Not the story I was expecting! The first 100 pages or so are kind of hard to get through, but the twist and ending are satisfying. Speaking of Summer has a lot more social commentary than a traditional thriller. I enjoyed it!
Phi Beta Kappa Authors
Kalisha Buckhanon
ΦBK, University of Chicago, 1999

From the publisher: On a cold December evening, Autumn Spencer's twin sister Summer walks to the roof of their shared Harlem brownstone and is never seen again—the door to the roof is locked, and no footsteps are found. Faced with authorities indifferent to another missing woman, Autumn must pursue answers on her own, all while grieving her mother's recent death.

With her friends and neighbors, Autumn pretends to hold up through the crisis. S
Paperback Paris
Jul 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
—The review below was authored by Paperback Paris Staff Writer, Rachel Gonzalez. Read more.

Kalisha Buckhanon's  Speaking of Summer  is a thriller through and through — but probably not in the way most readers would expect. This is the story of Autumn Spencer, a woman searching for her missing twin sister, Summer, who mysteriously disappears off their rooftop in the middle of a New York winter. But there’s much more to this search than just for Summer. As the search for her sister consumes her, A
Cassie Gutman (happybooklovers)
May 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arcs-owned
3.5 stars, but rounding up for its delicate treatment of a heartbreaking and difficult subject.

Recommend to those who like domestic thrillers but are tired of them a bit and looking for something softer and serious.
Nia Forrester
This author, who brought us Upstate one of my all-time favorite novels, keeps switching things up. Her voice changes from book to book, but what remains the same is that she brings us fiction rooted in some of the most troubling social issues of our time.

In 'Speaking of Summer' she tackles violence against women, mental illness, and the kinds of secrets that make frightened girls grow into fragmented women. There's even a little subtle commentary on gentrification and the changing face of Harle
Audra (ouija.doodle.reads)
The copy for this book is a bit misleading—it is not really meant for readers looking for a fast-paced thriller about a missing woman and the failure of the justice system. Instead, Buckhanon has crafted a drama of a perspective on being a woman, specifically a black woman, in America: the societal expectations and pressures, attitudes of men and people in privileged positions, and internalized trauma that compounds over time.

I did not completely mesh with the writing style and found it disjoint
Aug 16, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Soeaking of Summer was a difficult and dark read for me, and I'm glad that I stuck with it. I'm grateful that my life is foreign to what the book portrays.
Lisa Currier
Aug 22, 2019 rated it did not like it
DNF, tried so hard. Sooo boring & disjointed
Aug 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
So boring, slow and discombobulated.
Lisa Mcbroom
Aug 22, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: worst-of-2019
The Only Good thing about this book is the Cover. The Cover is Beautiful. Fast Paced HA!!!!! Reading this book is like dropping molasses through a sieve. Buckhanon could have said in a couple of pages what she took forever to say.
The CurvyJones
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like that this book is described as a "literary thriller". I'm not a fan of the standard "thrillers", but a "literary thriller" sounded so appealing!
I am glad I took the time to read this novel. Autumn has lost her twin, and her determined searching for answers leads her to withdraw from those around her. But what else is happening here? As the story moves on, we learn more about Autumn's life...what she has lost, who her friends are, where she has come from, and the role of her twin sister Su
Rebecca H.
Autumn has lost her sister, Summer. Summer left one set of footprints in the snow on their roof and hasn’t been seen since. So Autumn searches for her in their Harlem neighborhood and anywhere she can think of her sister might have disappeared to. She has very little luck. The police aren’t particularly interested in her case—nobody seems disturbed by a missing Black woman. Her mother died recently, her father isn’t in the picture, and her stepfather is terrible, so Autumn is alone and devastate ...more
Karla Holloway
Aug 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As much grace as ...

As much grace in this novel as there is anguish. This is a necessary story, mindful of its craft and respectfully aware of its artistry.
Aug 13, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: grown-up-books
Character driven, slow pace, unreliable narrator, tragedy, processing grief

Read over 160 pages and couldn't get into it. I really wanted to like this, especially with all the pre-pub acclaim, but I just couldn't. The blurb is really nothing like the story.
Kathleen Gray
Jul 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Autumn is unraveling as she searches for her twin Summer who disappeared in the winter. No one wants to help and she's coping with a raft of problems, not the least of which is her own mental health. This isn't really a thriller or a missing persons novel but it is interesting and it does use Summer to explore multiple topical themes. You might guess the twist midway through, or not, but it is the twist that made this a good read. It's a relatively slim volume but the length is just right. The w ...more
Aug 18, 2019 rated it liked it
I enjoyed it, but guessed the 'shocking twist' on page 14.
Aug 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I'm maybe a gullible reader, but I did not see the major plot twist coming. I loved this book. The dynamic characterization of the small cast of characters (Summer, Autumn, the boyfriends, the neighbors, Noel...) is the backbone of this rich novel. Kalisha Buckhanon seamlessly confronts grief, suicide, sisterhood, gentrification, intimacy, and isolation and crafts an unforgettable novel.
Jul 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting and well written story of a woman's search for her sister who disappeared without a trace. Autumn is a woman who is all alone in a big city on a desperate mission where no one seems to care. I won't give away the ending but will tell you that on some level we all share the same thoughts and feelings at times.
I received a copy of this book for free. I was not required to post a positive review and the views and opinions expressed are my own.
Aug 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Whew, what a story. At a certain point in the story, I had an idea that not all was as it seemed and there was a possibility of what actually became the reality. This story dealt with such big issues facing women, especially Black women such as street harassment, family ties, sexual abuse, who protects the vulnerable and who can the vulnerable turn to when they're injured. My heart broke for Autumn who was carrying so much, alone, while also trying to carry on and be a person in this world. So o ...more
Sep 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Read all of my reviews at

I can't remember where I first heard about Speaking of Summer by Kalisha Buckhanon, but as soon as I read the synopsis, I knew I had to add it to my to-be-read list. I enjoy a good mystery, and I was excited that this one featured African American women. Additionally, I found the twin element intriguing. The publisher, via the synopsis, describes this book as follows:

"On a cold December evening, Autumn Spencer's twin sister Summer walks to the roof of
Miriam Downey
Aug 04, 2019 rated it liked it
Read my full review here: https://mimi-cyberlibrarian.blogspot....

I try to finish most of the books that I begin, but I had trouble getting through Speaking of Summer. Several of the reviewers mentioned that it improved about half-way through, but frankly, it’s been quite a week around here, and I was not able to get to that point. I loved the title and loved the cover, but I just couldn't get through the book. Please don't let that deter you, because I believe that Buckhanon's look at Black wom
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Kalisha Buckhanon was born in Kankakee, Illinois. She is the author of Upstate, an American Library Association ALEX Award winner, Terry McMillan Young Author Award Winner and National Book Foundation "Literature for Justice" title, Conception, a Friends of American Writers Award winner, Solemn and Speaking of Summer. She was a true crime TV commentator appearing on BET, ID Channel and TV One with ...more