The Summer That Melted Everything, Tiffany McDaniel: Book Review

the summer that melted everything tiffany mcdaniel book reviewSt. Martin's Press / Tiffany McDaniel
The Summer That Melted Everything Book Cover The Summer That Melted Everything
Tiffany McDaniel
Adult Fiction
St. Martin's Press

Fielding Bliss has never forgotten the summer of 1984: the year a heat wave scorched Breathed, Ohio. The year he became friends with the devil.

Sal seems to appear out of nowhere - a bruised and tattered thirteen-year-old boy claiming to be the devil himself answering an invitation. Fielding Bliss, the son of a local prosecutor, brings him home where he's welcomed into the Bliss family, assuming he's a runaway from a nearby farm town.

When word spreads that the devil has come to Breathed, not everyone is happy to welcome this self-proclaimed fallen angel. Murmurs follow him and tensions rise, along with the temperature as an unbearable heat wave rolls into town right along with him. As strange accidents start to occur, riled by the feverish heat, some in the town start to believe that Sal is exactly who he claims to be. While the Bliss family wrestle with their own personal demons, a fanatic drives the town to the brink of a catastrophe that will change this sleepy Ohio backwater forever.

This review contains quotes from the book.

*Special thanks to St. Martin’s Press for allowing us to review Tiffany McDaniel’s The Summer That Melted Everything.

Tiffany McDaniel wrote a novel that completely exceeded my expectations with The Summer That Melted Everything. I never thought I would be reading about a boy who encounters the devil, and maybe it’s because this concept never really crossed my mind, but McDaniel makes it work so well.

“The heat came with the devil. It was the summer of 1984, and while the devil had been invited, the heat had not. It should’ve been expected, though. Heat is, after all, the devil’s name, and when’s the last time you left home without yours?”

— excerpt from Tiffany McDaniel’s The Summer That Melted Everything

(What a quote! Am I right?) McDaniel did a great job building up her main characters Fielding Bliss, the son of a local prosecutor, and Sal the devil himself. Initially, the Bliss family thought that because Sal showed up in their town by himself that he must be a runaway from another local town. So, of course, they do the right thing by taking him in. But little did they know that Sal would bring havoc with him.

When the town gets wind of the devil being in their native town of Breathed, Ohio, people begin to worry. Hostility starts to grow between town folks and the temperature rises to be immensely hot, which also doesn’t help pacify the now-chaotic city or the situation at hand. The Bliss family is in the midst of all this as they were the ones who welcomed him into their home.

“You know where the name hell came from.” He crossed his hands on his lap. “After I fell, I kept repeating to myself, God will forgive me. God will forgive me. Centuries of repeating this, I started to shorten it to He’ll forgive me. Then finally to one word, He’ll, He’ll.”

“Somewhere along the way, I lost that apostrophe and now it’s only Hell. But hidden in that one word is God will forgive me. God will forgive me. That is what is behind my door, you understand. A world of no apostrophes and, therefore, no hope.”

— excerpt from Tiffany McDaniel’s The Summer That Melted Everything

We learn that Fielding Bliss is retelling this story only 71 years after the fact. And he also explains how he’s in a bad place now because of the events that happened when Sal came into the city back in 1984. However, the one thing I did not like about the book was that there was little detail about Fielding’s living in the year 2055. I felt as though this was important to elaborate on because as readers it’s not likely to know what 2055 will look like. It would have been interesting to see McDaniel’s take on the world and perhaps giving detail to how this new time would translate in real life.

McDaniel presents a lot of fascinating thoughts about God and Hell and Satan; I also enjoyed the different perspective she shares on Sal as the devil and what brought him to this town in the first place. If you’re trying to read out of your boundaries, I would recommend this book to be a great option.

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Jessica Duffield
the authorJessica Duffield
Contributing Writer
I am a junior in college. Books are my passion and I hope to work in book publishing once I graduate from journalism school.