Hurricane Summer was an emotionally intense and thought provoking YA debut that tackles privilege, colorism, and family. It’s a book that was emotional from start to finish and defies explanations. How do we come to terms with people we love not being who we thought they are? With the idea that home, that place we’re longing for, might just be beyond our grasp. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.
Tilla has spent her entire life trying to make her father love her. But every six months, he leaves their family and returns to his true home: the island of Jamaica.
When Tilla’s mother tells her she’ll be spending the summer on the 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.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
TW: colorism, rape, sexual assault, domestic abuse, slut shaming, sexism, racism, gaslighting
Hurricane Summer is a story about embracing the person who we are, not who we are told to be. It’s also a story about fathers, about family who let us down, and stories that just can’t be. About being changed by destruction, altered by the forces of family, and walking out the other side. It’s about the words we never should have to hear, the sights we never should have to see, the defenses we shouldn’t have to prepare. What began as a story about the disillusionment and complex relationship between Tilla and her father, morphs into a story about family, privilege, and female sexuality.
Family & Fathers
Hurricane Summer contains the hurts, the pain, the aches of missing and longing we forget. The family relationships that Tilla is thrown headfirst into, a history of sacrifices, apologies never uttered, and grievances. It’s also rife with privilege differences, the jealously and envy, the pain that twists our heart. How can Tilla fit into this world? This place that should be a source of home, but is fitted with jagged edges.
Tilla has to reckon with the image she has of her father. Especially as she sees how he acts in Jamaica, surrounded both by his family, and memories of the past. Tilla confronts who she believes her father to be with his actions and his words. When we try to force them to be someone else, to have a piece of ourselves lie in their love, we’re left hollow.
Throughout it all, Tilla is gaslit and beginning to believe in their weaponization of her sexuality and feelings. How their advances, her innocent refusals, are seen as her being portrayed as a ‘slut’. It hurt my heart to witness Tilla’s emotional summer. All the ways they, and society, can chip away at a girl. Away at adventurous explorations, at feelings of love and intimacy. Combined with the sexism, Bromfield portrays a complex society and women whose actions have meanings behind them.
Who are products of their society, the ways they are expected to behave, and the moments stolen from them. We can encounter and feel so much pain. The envy and the ways trees feel like cages. But how we react and express our hurt and pain is what defines us. When we use it to punish, to issue vengeance that began before our birth, that’s our choice. And just because we’re in pain, we are not absolved.
How these teen’s mistakes are twisted into cages. All these intersectional moments of religion, family, and sexism. The pieces of society and blame that twist her thoughts and become internalized. How sexism and racism not only are seen in outward comments, but also insidious twisting within us. Hurricane Summer examines the ways jealously, privilege, and pain can manifest. How it lives on sunny days full of burbling waterfalls and wind swept torrential downpour.
The entire time you’re rooting for Tilla, while also not knowing how she can escape unscathed. And that’s the whole point of Hurricane Summer, you can’t. Once a hurricane touches down, uproots trees and floods houses, something has changed. New floor boards and budding plants that will always hold memory. It’s not about trying to go back to who you were, it’s about acknowledging that you’ve changed.
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About the Author
Asha Bromfield is an actress, singer, and writer of Afro-Jamaican descent. She is known for her role as Melody Jones, drummer of “Josie and the Pussycats” in CW’s Riverdale. She also stars as Zadie Wells in Netflix’s hit show, Locke and Key. Asha is a proud ambassador for the Dove Self-Esteem Project, and she currently lives in Toronto where she is pursuing a degree in Communications. In her spare time, she loves studying astrology, wearing crystals, burning sage, and baking vegan desserts. Hurricane Summer is her debut novel.