I'd read enough about this book to know it wasn't a 'typical beach read' but apparently I didn't fully believe that, given how blown away I was by how completely and crazily emotional and decidedly non-beachy Invincible Summer was.
Stories about family bonds aren't usually my thing but this book was totally my thing.
The family dynamic set out in Invincible Summer -- two ever-arguing parents, a deaf younger brother, an outspoken pre-teen sister, another sister on the way, an older brother who runs more than he stays, and our protagonist, Chase -- was incredibly well-developed and realistic. While it was heartwrenching to watch the bonds between them be tested, I so wanted to be a part of the McGill family to feel the intense love the share first-hand (though I doubt in that position I could feel much more strongly for the characters than I did through reading).
The emotions in Invincible Summer were raw and complex; they didn't just affect the characters, but they reached out and latched onto me. I experienced the character's roller coaster of emotions alongside them.
The characters were all incredibly well fleshed-out and realistic. They felt so real that turning the final page, I felt like I was losing friends. Chase's voice was so poignant and sad that I just wanted to give him a hug. Gideon was adorable and easy to love. I identified a lot with Noah, my favourite character in the novel.
The best thing about Invincible Summer, though, is the quasi-love triangle between Chase and Noah and Melinda. It wasn't sweet and built on raw, instant attraction but on need. It wasn't about making the reader swoon, but about making the reader understand the characters and what they've been through and what that means now.
An incredibly emotional story of family told in raw prose. A must-read for contemporary fans.
I give Invincible Summer at 6 out of 5!