The Beach Read: David Baldacci's One Summer

887c961bcf6117372f95_03f0a47bf86e30926ef2_0ne_summer.jpg
Credits: Grand Central Pub
887c961bcf6117372f95_03f0a47bf86e30926ef2_0ne_summer.jpg

It's finally summer. You pull out your rainbow colored sand chair and faded, faithful beach bag. Throw in the soft, terrycloth towel, the #30 sunscreen, lip balm, bottle of water ---and a “beach read.”

The “beach read” is an odd animal. It doesn't demand anything of us. The plot can be loose, or even non-existant. The language doesn't have to be pure, poetic, or the message profound. The beach read is minldess fun, and the setting is always --- the beach.

David Baldacci, known for being a good story teller (not a great writer---there is a distinct difference) is remembered for best sellers including Absolute Power, Total Control, The Whole Truth, and The Sixth Man, books with decent plots and compelling characters.

Sign Up for E-News

For some reason, Baldacci decided that he wanted to try his hand at being Nicholas Sparks. In fact, in his acknowledgements he writes, “To Michelle, for taking the journey with me. To Mitch Hoffman for readily jumping in with both feet on something so different. To David Young and Jamie Raab for allowing me to stretch.” (p.335) The one thing that none of those acknowledged did was tell Baldacci that being Nicholas Sparks didn't fit David Baldacci all that well.

The basic story is that of Jack Armstrong, a man with a beautiful wife, Lizzie, and three children, Mikki, Corey, and little Jack. Jack is dying of cancer that is 100% fatal in all cases. In his waning hours of life, Lizzie braves the cold and ice of Chicago to get her man his needed meds, and ironically dies in a car crash.

In this eerie reversal of fortune, Jack becomes “the miracle man,” and rises, like Lazarus, into an inexplicable remission. Now, instead of leaving his children, he must find his way back to them, despite the challenges thrown his way by Lizzie's vincictive mother, some “good ole boys” in South Carolina, the wrath of the unforgiving tabloids, and most of all, himself.

The book, unfortunately, is rife with problems. As a Creative Writing teacher, the first lesson that I always taught my students was that “characters drive your story.” In One Summer the characters are so cliched and predicatable that it is impossible to care that much about them.

Take 15 year old Mikki, a sullen adolescent with a bad attitude about everything; her father almost dying, then her father living, then her mother dying. It's always about her. Her music. The boys she meets in South Carolina. Being the object of bullying. Being robbed of winning a talent contest when clearly she and her boyfriend, Liam, deserved to win.

Here comes the big HOWEVER. I stayed up all night and read the novel in one sitting. The redeeming feature of One Summer is its setting, a run down beach house where Lizzie and her twin sister, Tilly, had spent many happy summers with their parents and grandparents---until Tilly died. Lizzie got it into her head that by using the ramshackle lighthouse on the property, she could find the hole leading to heaven where she could reunite with her lost sibling.

Now Jack is obsessed with the lighthouse, only he wants to touch his lost wife. In the maze of grief and longing, the magic of the sea and sand helps Jack to find his way back, not only to physical health, but spirtitual well being.

So,in the final analysis, although it's not Baldacci's best, there is enough compelling here to throw One Summer into the beachbag---and if you happen to doze a little in the summer sun, well, what is a beach read really for anyway?

Beth Moroney, former English teacher and administrator in the Edison Public School District, specialized in teaching Creative Writing and Journalism. Recently Moroney published Significant Anniversaries of Holocaust/Genocide Education and Human/Civil Rights, available through the New Jersey Commission on the Holocaust. A passionate reader, Moroney is known for recommending literature to students, teachers, parents, and the general public for over forty years. Moroney can be contacted at trackdak19@hotmail.com.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Edison

Holy Savior Academy Presents ‘The Sound of Music,’ Eighth Graders Inducted into Thespian Society 

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Holy Savior Academy's Drama Club performed 'Getting to Know: The Sound of Music' on May 3 and May 4. 

Holy Savior Academy's Drama Club just finished its fourth year and has performed six shows. The Drama Club is run under the direction of Susan Loughlin, Daneile Micale and Eva Tripodi. This year’s production, which featured a cast ...

TAPinto Featured Franchisee: Steve Lenox of TAPinto Paterson

This week's feature will focus on TAPinto Paterson's franchisee, Steve Lenox. Find out how the current owner of a public affairs firm went from a former State Director for Senator Frank Lautenberg to a proud TAPinto franchisee for New Jersey's third largest city.

 

Q. When did you join TAPinto.net?

I joined TAPinto.net in September, ...

Piscataway Police: Driver Charged with Causing Passenger’s Death

May 16, 2018

PISCATAWAY, NJ – Tayib Mahmood, 29, of Woodbridge was charged on Wednesday with causing the death of a passenger in his car, said Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey and Piscataway Police Chief Scott Cartmell.

The charges stem from a May 6 crash on Stelton Road when Mahmood, who was driving a 2014 Toyota Camry struck a concrete barrier near Jessie Way and the car caught on fire, ...

Rutgers Center Battles Noise Pollution Nationwide

May 11, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ  - Eric Zwerling got a call this week from a man was living next to a fitness center, complaining he repeatedly heard the loud thud heavy free weights and medicine balls hit the floor.

The man was recovering from having a pace maker in his chest and wondering of the impact of the noise from the gym.

“I’ve received thousands of calls,” said Zwerling, ...

Host an International Exchange Student

May 21, 2018

EF High School Exchange Year—a division of EF Education First, the World Leader in International Education—has kicked off its annual nationwide search for caring host families to welcome exchange students into their homes. Last year EF connected over 3,000 exchange students from around the world with families across the United States, and they are expecting to place the same number ...

'Turning Off the Morning News' brings comic twist

‘Turning Off the Morning News’ tackles today’s issues with a comic twist

By Liz Keill

PRINCETON, N J – Despite the late night comics, no one quite captures the insanity of the political/social status world like Christopher Durang.

His latest play, “Turning off the Morning News” hit the ground running.  John Pankow as Jimmy addresses the audience, ...