The Remnants of Summer

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Pub Date 01 May 2021 | Archive Date 01 Jun 2021

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Iris is sinking. As the summer of 1974 begins, she must grapple with the events that have lain dormant since the previous summer when her brother, Scott, drowned in their neighborhood lake. On her watch.

While Iris flounders with the weight of her guilt and grief, she seeks redemption from her family and yearns, in particular, to repair a strained relationship with her sister, Liz. But new developments threaten her efforts, forcing her to navigate the turbulence of the present summer while reckoning with the emotional trauma of the past.

Set in a working-class neighborhood, The Remnants of Summer (Apprentice House Press; May 1, 2021) is a story of how collective grief and personal guilt threaten the individuals who make up a family. As Iris sifts through the images of the past, she wrestles with waves of guilt and responsibility, acceptance and forgiveness. Surrounded by the gentle rhythms of a Michigan summer, she endeavors to rise up and become visible once again.

Iris is sinking. As the summer of 1974 begins, she must grapple with the events that have lain dormant since the previous summer when her brother, Scott, drowned in their neighborhood lake. On her...

Advance Praise

“In this atmospheric coming of age novel, Newton explores how an unexpected death is not just an event, but a change of climate. [...] The Michigan childhood of beaches, bicycles, and babysitting as a backdrop for loss is beautifully, achingly rendered.”

—Bonnie Jo Campbell, author of Q Road, American Salvage, and Once Upon a River, now a motion picture

“Set in a moment in American life as fleeting and moving as a perfect June day, The Remnants of Summer is a tender story of grief, guilt, and growing up. Newton’s novel exposes the pain in one 1970s lakefront community, then digs deeper to show the strength underneath.”

—Julia Phillips, author of Disappearing Earth, a National Book Award Finalist and New York Times Top Ten Book of 2019

“In this atmospheric coming of age novel, Newton explores how an unexpected death is not just an event, but a change of climate. [...] The Michigan childhood of beaches, bicycles, and babysitting as...

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ISBN 9781627203388
PRICE $28.99 (USD)

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Average rating from 24 members

Featured Reviews

The Remnants of Summer is a meandering and rhythmic novel with beautiful writing. It takes place one year after Scott’s accidental drowning. The novel explores just one part of Iris’s guilt and sorrow after her brother’s death. I thought the choice to set the novel a year after the death was interesting. It definitely separates it from other novels that explore grief. The depiction of the lingering pain and feelings of separation is very realistic. While Iris and her family are still struggling, both with themselves and one another, the mood feels more positive. You can see the characters finding their strength again as they begin to find acceptance (or as much as you can find anyways after such a senseless loss). The story is set in a small beach community in 1970’s Michigan. While some events from the 70’s were incorporated in the novel, it seemed a somewhat arbitrary choice of setting. After reading the author’s note, it makes much more sense. Dawn Newton describes how her understanding of the evils in the world was impacted by several events that are similar to ones that her character Iris experiences. This made me consider how these huge world events, while seemingly footnotes in the novel, impacted Iris’s developing perspective of the world. Iris’s growth was subtle but definitely present. I enjoyed watching her become stronger and seeing how this impacted her relationships with other characters, and ultimately with herself. The pacing did feel very slow at some points, and then very rushed near the end. So much happened in the epilogue that I wish hadn’t been pushed to the last few pages. The characters, the setting, the gentle writing make this a very calming book to read. I enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone interested in a different take on a coming of age story. Thank you to Netgalley, Apprentice House Press, and Dawn Newton for the advanced copy.

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I wanted to read this book I have been going through grief myself. I found the book a bit encouraging. I love the family. Reminded me a lot of my family. The characters seem very real to me. I especially liked that it was set in the 1970s. That was my favorite era. I like that it was mixed in with the family story. Very glad I read this peaceful book. Thank you Netgalley

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I fell into this book and never got back out until I finished it. This story takes place the year after Iris falls asleep on the beach while she’s supposed to be watching her younger brother. As that evening unfolds the police and search and rescue are called and when Scott’s body is found their family crumbles into a sea of silent grief and self blame. As summer returns, Iris tries to step out into the world a little at a time and finds herself working with a wise old man who is key in helping her try to forgive herself. There are side stores woven into the main one that add mystery and some drama as a child killer is on the loose. I would like to thank NetGalley for the chance to read this wonderful book and I will be looking for other titles by this author!

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I've been recently reading a lot of books with a theme of grief and I have to say this book was amazing. I loved how it handled grief so uniquely and I definitely give this five stars and for sure recommend it!

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This novel is a slow, engrossing read. Iris Merchant is a 14 year-old girl living in Michigan during the 1970s. The book has cultural and historical references to make it believable, and it works, though it chooses not to dwell too deep into the matter. She’s the middle child, with a slightly older sister, named Liz and a younger brother, Scott who dies just as the book opens. Much of the plot is about Iris’ processing of the matter since she feels responsible for it, due to the circumstances under which the event took place. The family largely tries to keep all things buried in until she pushes them to admit their feelings. However, though it’s not narrated in first person, we get a lot more about Iris’ life and views than the other characters. Because of this, there’s a level of intrigue and suspense even when it is, for most purposes and intents, a third person quasi omniscient narrator (and I’m coining this term because we’re not told everything that happens). One of the things I liked, is that it relies a lot in showing and then, telling. For example: we can see how Liz’s reaction is based on blaming, though not entirely condemning Iris and still struggling with these feelings. In this sense, Liz is way more explicit than the other members of the family who, of course, fear damaging their daughter but also have an impending separation taking place. Because of things like this, the characters felt all too human, and this is refreshing in a world of Mary Sues and Gary Stus I kept thinking to myself that I would like contemporary novels a lot more if they were like this, especially those directed at teens, even if they would have to tweak this one a bit to work for that audience. The plot is slow enough, and though the end it’s a bit rushed, the execution ranges from acceptable to remarkable. Swearing and sexual references are mild enough, and the use of language is generally very satisfying. This one is for adults because there are a series of murders in the background, especially of kids who happen to babysit younger peers, and a paedophile who, for worse, seems to get away with it, though explicit rape scenes are not shown, we see him trying to trap Iris and effectively, we’re told that he got one of Iris’ friends pregnant, though it’s not clear what happens to the baby. I also appreciated how Sheldon was a complementary father figure who could relate to Iris’ struggle and this implied some wisdom on Iris’ dad part, since this summer job was much more rewarding in terms of development for her. This was introduced slowly with no giveaways, and those are pleasant surprises. She did need someone like him, someone who would listen. So, even if he couldn't give that to her own daughter, he knew who would be able to do so..

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I was pleasantly surprised by this read, wasn’t really sure what I was expecting but I got more than I had foreseen. This truly is a coming-of-age story during a year in the life of a young girl that unfortunately was babysitting her 11-year-old brother when he went swimming in the lake and never returned. We live alongside her doubts, regrets, sorrow, loss, fears and guilt. We witness the marriage of her parents suffering and the distance that grows between her and her sister. I loved the ending; it was so appropriate and really could not have been done any better. I graduated high school in 1974, the setting and descriptions were so spot on, I was laughing out loud when her mother took her to buy material for sewing halter tops. My mother took me to buy material to sew halter tops to wear with my bell bottoms. Oh, good times. I found this to be a really good book. It was a sleeper. I want to thank Apprentice House Press along with NetGalley for allowing me the opportunity to read an ARC. This one earns 5 stars.

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Really enjoyed this book. It is set in the 70s and i grew up in the 70s so I could appreciate the references....the songs and POW bracelets etc of that time rang true. Iris’s brother drowned the year before the book opened while Iris was supposed to be watching him, instead she fell asleep. Iris felt responsible for his drowning but her parents and older sister never talked about it or changed his room. You felt the anxiety from the family trying to cope with the death. When they finally did discuss it, you realized they all felt guilt about it for different reasons. It was a great read but especially the last two chapters were so compelling! There couldn’t have been a more satisfying ending. I also enjoyed reading the authors acknowledgements, gave insight into the story. Looking forward to more from this author

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A beautiful story, I felt like I was going through the grieving process with the characters and related to Liv on a personal level. Looking forward to more from this author.

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I received an ARC copy of The Remnants of Summer. My curiosity was piqued since the book is set in southeast Michigan during my formative years. I grew up in Michigan (and still live there) during the same time period and was flooded with memories of my youth. This is a thoughtful book that explores Iris's struggles with feeling responsible for her brother's death. No one in her family will talk about Scott, as they all are struggling with their grief. Events of the summer unfold slowly until the family is forced to examine how not acknowledging their pain has effected all their relationships. This is a lovely book and I recommend it. #NetGalley #TheRemnantsofSummer #DawnNewton

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