Cover Image: Summer Sons

Summer Sons

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Member Reviews

I needed this book in my life. I read this at the right time and wow, I know it's a book I will go back and read again. Summer Sons is truly everything I love in books. Moron MCs who are just absolutely vibing on their one braincell and their "found" family of friends who are chaos and they all make horrible decisions on the daily. It's great! Plus, there are two things I enjoy putting into books, sports and cars, and this said, you get a car, You get a car and YOU get a car! It was fun even though they were all driving supped up wind up cars. 

I appreciated the grime of this book. Our main character, Andrew, is a mess, guys...in more way than one. Things get messy in terms of physical dirt and also messy in terms of mental stability. It was a great discussion on grief. Not the same thing at all but I had just lost my dog, who was very important to me and that's what I mean by I read this at the right time. It meant something more. 

I really liked the discussion of queerness in this book. Maybe others will disagree with me on this, but as someone who grew up in a more conservative area, I get it. I remember doing things with my friends and not doing things with my friends, and lashing out or people making fun of us for being too close and how that changed our relationship. 

This takes the idea of the things we hold onto and the things we prize not being perfect. Andrew and Eddie's friendship was as much a part of the mystery as the death and fantasy elements were. Andrew's unwillingness to make effort toward things that were too hard to handle was extremely relatable and I think that's why the ending works so well. 

I could go on and on about this book. I probably would've had more sound thoughts if I had done this review right after I finished reading it instead of two months later. But that seems to be how life is lately. I really loved this book. The tone of it was great, the college setting is fun, as well as the grungier story choices/descriptions.  Something I'll be reading again and taking notes on. Thanks again for the advanced copy from NetGalley!
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This is an incredible southern gothic queer story. I will admit that it took me two attempts to really get into it but once I did, I devoured it. The writing is very atmospheric, I felt the crushing weight of the southern heat while I read. Andrew's grief for Eddie was palpable and I felt myself also grieving the loss of this boy. The writing can be a bit purpley at times to the point where I was sort of confused, but I was able to push through and still really enjoy the story.
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Didn't capture my attention and engagement. Interested in trying it again though and hopefully it will take.
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This book seduced me with its promise of spooky times and long stretches of repressed miserable queer longings and subsequently hooked me—line and sinker—with the clarity of its prose, the gorgeous character work, and the musings on vampiric love and inheritance and masculinity and all the bleak many-faceted enormities of grief. I felt, moreover, compelled by the delicious and increasingly fraught tensions crisscrossing the cast of characters. The slow-burn is real, and I lived for it. Above all, this book hugely impressed me with its deliberate indictment of the racism baked into academic structures, an aspect that is too-often conveniently omitted by writers dabbling in the "dark academia" sub-genre. Mandelo doesn't flinch away from pointing out how their (white) characters thoughtlessly perpetuate the problem, through horrifically powerful gullibility or just callous apathy. There's a particular thematic note in this book that still has my stomach roiling with angry acids: as a queer person of color, you really cannot rely on your white queer peers to understand the shape of your chafing and grappling against institutionalized racism, no matter how well-intentioned they are/claim to be. Being queer does not make our experiences navigating the wide world similar or even equal. I've had interactions with white queers to whom this concept remains utterly ungraspable, and this book validates that helpless frustration. West's story got into me in a way that very few things ever have. I mean, you KNOW a book has struck deep chords in you when the words burst out of you in a faintly coherent voice note sent to a dear friend because you are angry and you want to be angry with someone who will understand, in a marrow-deep way, the shape of your anger. That said, this is a debut, so it's inevitable that it winds up with a few flaws: I found the mystery predictable and the plot, which involves a lot of dangling threads and dead ends, plods along for the first half of the book and the pace soon lapses into a repetitive, episodic rhythm. In hindsight, this aimlessness is somewhat justified—Andrew, our protagonist, is devastatingly, explosively lost. Grief, formless and rampant, is pounding at him at every turn until he can hardly feel his own edges, and that protracted process of grieving is central to the novel. It takes some work to get used to, but it's worth it. If you're more keen on character-driven stories, like I am, rest assured that this will not put a permanent dent in your enjoyment of this book. Overall, SUMMER SONS is a lovely book and an impressive debut from an author I'm definitely keeping an eye on.
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I am a member of the American Library Association Reading List Award Committee. This title was suggested for the 2022 list. It was not nominated for the award. The complete list of winners and shortlisted titles is at <a href="https://rusaupdate.org/2022/01/readers-advisory-announce-2022-reading-list-years-best-in-genre-fiction-for-adult-readers/">
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“Scrolling on his phone passed the time as he fought to tamp down the swelling tide of memories and miseries.”

Gothic horror will forever be one of my favorite genres and Mandelo nailed it with this one with added layers of mystery. Such a haunting, well written book. Admittedly it was a bit slower paced than I normally like but it really set up a fantastic ending so the slow burn ended up being worthwhile. Extremely well written and I loved the queer representation. The south can be an ugly way pace and the inclusion of that really added so much to the story. I enjoy grief-stricken characters and I connected a lot with the characters. Highly recommend this one!
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This was an atmospheric coming-of-age novel blended with some creepy, Southern Gothic-esque horror. That's all I have to say!
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I really enjoyed this title. It's dark, gothic, and feels like a dream. The characters were really interesting, and I was so intrigued by their stories. As many have said, it really does feel like a more-adult version of the Raven Cycle in all of the best ways. 

Super excited to see what Lee Mandelo does next!
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Haunting and delightfully gothic -- Lee Mandelo's debut has been lingering in my mind even since I closed the final pages. I have somewhat complicated feeling about Summer Suns, as it tackles a horror/mystery plot, characters processing grief over a complicated (somewhat toxic) friendship, and a budding queer romance in a context enmeshed in the hallmarks of masculinity all at the same time, with somewhat uneven success. In summary: it's an ambitious undertaking. It’s one big book of adult boys making bad decisions, raw and messy. Summer Sons is gorgeously written, but at times a little too opaque and indulgent in the flaws of the characters. The romance plot was promising, but it understandably takes a back seat to the grief/horror plot and ends on rather shaky foundations -- I would be hesitant to even classify it as a "happy for now" ending. I find myself hoping for a sequel to wrap things up a bit more, but I believe this was intended to be a standalone. All in all, this was a delightfully spooky and complex read -- I gobbled it down in one sitting and stayed up far too late to finish it. I would definitely read more by this author, but will refer to the content notes when recommending Summer Sons to others.
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There are horror novels and then there are actual horror novels that throw you off balance. Being from the Southern Appalachian area, I already know there's ghosts and creatures we don't talk about if we want to keep our sanity. Combining the bloodthirsty nature of both Appalachia and academia makes for one hell of a ride!
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It's a supernatural horror book about those awful young men my son watches on YouTube!  Unsettling, anxious, and very satisfying - a general delight.
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This book was such a HUGE horror disappointment.  And the fact that it was supposed to be a Queer Horror epic?  Nope, not in my book it wasn't.  Waited forever to delve into it.....and it was a waste of time.  I thought about dnf'ing it at 56% and decided to finish it anyway.  Why?  
Sorry.  Skip it.
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Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo, when I saw the cover and read the synopsis I believed this would by right up my alley, and it kinda was. Alley adjacent I’ll say.

I wanted so desperately to enjoy this read but there was a lot pushing me away. Stories woven from the tapestry of old families and old money are fascinating. The depths folks will go to maintain a history of power, captivating. Unfortunately Summer Sons skirts around what I felt was the most interesting angle of the narrative, concerning Andrew, a young man looking into the suicide of his best friend. But his intentions don’t come off as all that heartfelt or sincere. He just has this generic mopey vibe, that feels less “I just lost my best friend” and more “Nobody understands me, leave me alone.” His investigation sort of walks and talks in circles as he shrugs off anyone interested in helping, until answers are handed to him.

But this is also where the books really starts to hook me, two thirds of the way in. Summer Sons was very nearly a DNF, probably would have been if I it weren’t a book-party. I am glad that I kept going, for sure. The end is solid and featured a little more of the lore that I was looking for. More of the Old/Family history would have held me a little tighter. Mandelo’s writing is solid, it’s just the narrative that didn’t hold me.
Check it out though, others seem to be getting a bit more out of it.

Personal entertainment value 2/5
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The narrative in Summer Sons was compelling and the characters likeable. I would have a hard time selling to people in my store, who tend to be older— they might find it difficult to relate to. That said, I would still handsell this book to anyone from ages 16-26. Thouroughly enjoyed, thank you for the arc!
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A lovely lyrical queer mystery dripping with Southern Gothic aesthetics. Delicious moments of pining meet meditations of grief meet a promising mystery hook that has wonderful payoff by the end.
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I recommend this one. It's a good book and everyone should read. Of course I would love to have this book in my bookstore.
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I had trouble with the beginning of this book due to the format of the eArc, however, the book picks up and all you need are more words. The story was creepy, the beginning of the story had so many little things up in the air that made sense eventually. Eddie, though very much dead from the very beginning, had a strong presence. I loved Andrew because he reminded me of Ronan Lynch,. I loved this book enough to get my own copy.
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Lee Mandelo’s Summer Sons is an elaborately wrought queer story that blends gothic, horror, and mystery, but which is crippled by repetition, glacial pace, and unlikable characters.
Summer Sons was one of my most looked-forward-to books of the year. The sales copy, which bills the book as queer Southern gothic, was somewhat misleading. The book tells the story of Andrew, who is grieving after the death of his best friend, Eddie, and trying to learn how Eddie died—Eddie’s death is believed to be a suicide by everyone except Andrew. Meanwhile, Andrew is haunted by ghosts (and has been after a traumatic event years before, like Eddie), and something that might be Eddie is pursuing him.
That description is the book I wanted to read. Instead, I got lots of meandering self-pity, repetitive conversations and internal dialogue, and an agonizingly slow crawl of a book, all in the company of unlikable (and insignificant) people. The writing, which was pretty but, in places, too dense / symbolic / abstract / unclear, didn’t help anything.
Recommended for readers who enjoy stories about coming of age, accepting who you are, unlikable characters, academia, racing, and ghosts.
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I finished this book a long time ago, but I forgot to write a review about it on NetGalley. I am not really sure what I liked about this book and what I didn't like because this book is kind of unmemorable to me now. I can't tell you if this is going to be a favorite of yours, but what I can say is that it was enjoyable when I was reading it and it will probably not be a memorable read.
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I can't believe I am so behind on the times, but I finally sat down and read Summer Sons. Now to take a few minutes to review it, as Lee Mandelo's writing deserves that much!

Andrew and Eddie were the best of friends. You'll notice the past tense in that statement. Eddie had to head off to continue his education. That shouldn't have been the end of the friendship. It wouldn't have been had Andrew had any say in the matter.

Unfortunately, Eddie's apparent suicide stops his plans in their tracks. Now Andrew is determined to get to the truth behind Eddie's death, even if that means handling a macabre inheritance and other...concerning details.

“Scrolling on his phone passed the time as he fought to tamp down the swelling tide of memories and miseries.”

Summer Sons is an intense horror read, perfect for this darker Tor line. Seriously guys, don't make the same mistake I did – read this book when it is nice and sunny out. As opposed to dark, dreary, and right before bed. Yeah, mistakes were made.

I think what made Summer Sons all the more chilling for me was how slowly it burned. That gradually growing sense of fear and horror got to me. Don't get me wrong – I loved every minute of it. I just also happened to pay an emotional toll in the process.

That's not all that hit me about Summer Sons because apparently, Lee Mandelo pulled out all the stops. There is something so painfully human about Andrew's situation – losing a best friend and trying so hard to hang on to whatever scraps remain, including a mystery that needs solving. It hurts.

Thankfully, there are good moments to balance those harder moments, including my favorite trope – the found family. I love it, and I hope you guys do as well because it plays a huge part in this book.
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