Today’s featured book is Hurricane Summer, a debut novel by the multi-talented Asha Bromfield. This book review and my Q&A with Asha is part of the Hurricane Summer blog tour; and thanks to Wednesday Books for having me on their tours. Like I mentioned in a previous blog tour book review, my book reviews take a fair share of beating and editing as I ponder about how best to put my thoughts about the book – everything I feel about it – all in one place. So read on for my thoughts on the book and my Q & A with Asha Bromfield.
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The Hurricane Summer Blog Tour
Thank you to Wednesday Books for inviting me on the Hurricane Summer blog tour, and for the ARC of this book. I am also glad to have had a chance to interview Asha Bromfield as a part of this blog tour.
The Book Review
Title: Hurricane Summer
Author: Asha Bromfield
Length: 400 pages
Genre: Coming of age
Publisher: Wednesday Books (May 4, 2021)
Source: eARC from the publishers via NetGalley
In this sweeping debut, Asha Bromfield takes readers to the heart of Jamaica, and into the soul of a girl coming to terms with her family, and herself, set against the backdrop of a hurricane.
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.
Hurricane Summer is a powerful coming of age story that deals with colorism, classism, young love, the father-daughter dynamic―and what it means to discover your own voice in the center of complete destruction.
Hurricane Summer is about strength, survival against struggles, and about the sheer everything-ness of life and nature. This was one of those books that was difficult to read yet beautiful; it is certainly not a book one picks up for fun, but is one that is bound to break your heart and slowly mend it back again. It is a book about discovering yourself and knowing you matter; and it is also about learning that you are all the magic you need while also learning that you are not alone.
Asha Bromfield’s lyrical description of Jamaica and its beauty take you right into the lush Jamaican countryside. You experience it all: the waterfalls, the greenery, the storms, the guinep and oranges fresh from the tree; and the people it featured, the Patois language in all its distinctness, and more.
And there is beauty in Tilla’s relationship with her cousin Andre (definitely my favorite character in the book), her little sister Mia, and her mother. And there is beauty in Tilla’s strength at the end of her hurricane summer.
The Things That Break Your Heart
In all other things, this book brutally tugs at heartstrings. It is totally unapologetic about dealing with difficult topics: absent fathers, racism and colorism, gender inequality, classism and sexism.
At various points in the book, I wanted to stop reading for I could not (and yet totally could) wrap my thoughts around all that was happening. I was angry, yelling (in my head) at all the characters – the good ones(not enough of those in this book), the bad ones, and the worse – for all they were doing wrong. I was frustrated about all that they were not doing too ; and should have, could have done easily to make things better.
The topics Bromfield so deftly deals with in this book — the racism, colorism, classism, or gender inequality — are not ones I am unfamiliar with. While I am so very lucky to have grown up in a family and a neighborhood where I did not have to face any of this myself as a young girl and even today, I know they exist (and that is the sad, painful, unfortunate truth) in various ways, all around the world. I know (of) people who faced these issues; and that made it all the more difficult to read the book. But…….
The Things That Keep You Going
Asha Bromfield’s powerful writing kept me going forward despite the storm (the veritable hurricane) of feelings it stirred in me; and I wanted to find out what happened next to Tilla (and a couple of the other characters too). So I read it all the way through and was glad I did so. Granted, the book broke my heart all over again as I made my way towards the end, but it also healed it just a little.
Tilla is not a perfect character by any means; and I love that Bromfield portrays her that way – flawed, confused, but discovering herself, and growing into womanhood through that hurricane summer. So yes, watching Tilla’s character development kept me going.
And all that I mentioned about the beauty of this book — the Jamaican countryside, the Patois, Andre and Mia– they kept me going all the way to a soaring end.
Abuse; both physical and emotional, sexual assault. + those difficult topics mentioned earlier.
While the book’s age-range is mentioned as 13 – 18 years, I think younger teens and sensitive readers should keep those trigger warnings in mind before they pick it up; with caution.
And if reading in a dialect might worry you, don’t worry for Bromfield includes a Patois word bank at the start to help you along. While I was tempted to check back with that dictionary, I also did not want to stop reading, so I did not refer to it as often as I thought I would (just a couple of times in fact). And anyway after a while, I got it through context and repetition; and it was all good. But just for those of you who might need it, there is a handy dictionary.
Don’t forget to have reasons for why you are tearing up to others around you. I had to explain to my family that they had done nothing wrong; and it was something I read that had me crying – the something being Hurricane Summer.
I look forward to more from Asha Bromfield in the future.
As for quotes, I bookmarked way too many; and found it was tough to pick just a few to share here with you. And anyways hope you will be reading it for yourself.
A brutally tough yet beautifully powerful read.
Get It Here
Author Bio and Interview
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.
And here is my interview with Asha Bromfield..
VT: An actor, now an author. What next?
AB: I want to blend both worlds and show people that you don’t have to live in the limited box that society puts on us. You can do anything you put your mind to. We are multifaceted creators and I’m passionate about being that example – you can be great at multiple things, and you can do anything! I plan to star in the movie adaptation of Hurricane Summer, so that’s next. I’m also working on my second novel and I’m currently shooting the final season of Locke and Key. I want to have a book-to-movie empire and produce all of my literary work. I’m so excited about life, and I hope to be an example that we are all deserving and worthy of our dreams.
VT: What is your favorite memory of Jamaica?
AB: Going to the river with my cousins is one of my favorite memories. Also, playing court is a close second. The country kids would hold court every week and its one of my most sacred memories. I also loved running through the Hurricane with my cousins. It was a once in a lifetime experience!
VT: What personality traits do you share with Tilla and/or Mia, if any?
AB: I identify with Tilla the most. I love her vulnerability and the way that she wears her heart on her sleeve. She’s so beautiful and pure to me, but she just doesn’t know it at that point in her life. I relate to that a lot, and it excites me how Tilla steps into her power. When it comes to how Tilla uses her voice, I would say I’m more similar to Mia, in the sense that Mia speaks up a lot and I’m a lot more like that. I find a lot of power in using my voice. I think Tilla is still figuring out how to use her voice and is more concerned with being liked than Mia is.
VT: If your book is brought to screen, what role would you want to play?
AB: Tilla! Definitely and absolutely Tilla. The character excites me so much because she’s so flawed, human and beautiful. I like that she’s figuring it all out. Her story is an honest reflection of how complicated the journey into womanhood can be, especially when you don’t have the proper foundation or safe space to do so. I think there are so many girls and women who can relate to Tilla, as a lot of us have had our own hurricane summer.
VT: What are your current reads? Or your favorite books ever?
AB: Children of Blood and Bone by the QUEEN Tomi Adeyemi. Infinity Son by LEGEND Adam Silvera. Grown by EMPRESS Tiffany D Jackson. They are all icons to me and as a writer, I look up to them so much. They have all been incredible mentors to me throughout this process and I feel so blessed and lucky.
Thank you once again to Asha Bromfield for her answers; and to Wednesday Books for inviting me on the Hurricane Summer blog tour, as well as to NetGalley.
And Now, the End of This Post
Dear reader, as always would love to hear your thoughts on the post. Do you have any other similar books to recommend? Granted, it might be a while before I read another that breaks my heart so but as long as the book will put it (my heart, I mean) back together for me, I will pick it up in the near future. Will you be reading this book? And what about Jamaica? Have you been there? Do you speak Patois? I know I want to hear it now.