Winner of the Missouri Romance Writers of America “Gateway to the Best” contest, Cherokee Summer, written by author Susan Anthony, brings some real-life problems and attitudes forward while characters Ace and John refuse to give up on love.
My Thoughts on Cherokee Summer
Alcoholic and dependent parents, racism, and questionable acquaintances are problems Ace and John face in Cherokee Summer. Co-dependent Ace struggles to find her independence from an alcoholic mother and a professional-gambling father while still caring for her autistic brother. Certainly not easy, she refuses to seek help because she doesn’t want to lose her brother, whom she loves deeply.
John lives a relatively stable life, but yearns for the love of his alcoholic mother, who left him when he was four and only visits when she needs money. Some of the friends he once associated with use and sell drugs, and participate in underage drinking.
I have mixed emotions about Cherokee Summer. Anthony knows how to write a story. Her word choice, structure, and ability to pull the reader in has many authors strapped over the proverbial barrel. As I read, I didn’t want to put the book down, despite my eye rolls at young love and concern that certain content might evolve to something I won’t read.
The situations the main characters find themselves in with family and friends are real for a lot of people. Alcohol, drug use, and nonacceptance of race, regardless of whether they are a minority or not. These affect the lives of millions. And I don’t shy away from stories where such factors play a part–as long as they aren’t shown in a positive light. And they’re not in Cherokee Summer.
Before moving on with my concerns, I want to explain some of my background. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which teaches that what we read, watch, and experience in our lives affects us greatly. We learn to choose our entertainment carefully because of this. Morally, we believe in appropriate affection toward the opposite gender. This absolutely allows for appropriate kissing, but we teach our children to focus less on physical desires and more on getting to know each other. The Church also teaches that sex is a sacred gift, the power to create life, and is given to us to enjoy only within the bounds of marriage.
So where did I struggle? This book is filled with teenage hormones. Perhaps normal, considering the main characters are 18. But the friendship they build focuses first on physical touch, then actual friendship. It isn’t until after they’ve kissed several times and had a good make-out session that they focus on learning about each other. Hormones are real… Still, I wouldn’t let my teenage daughters read this book, and I’m not likely to recommend it to other adults without a strong disclaimer.
Within the pages, readers find regular ogling of both male and female bodies, French kissing, a girl lifting her top so her belly can touch her male counterpart’s while making out, mention of clothed grinding hips, and behind-the-scenes premarital sex between two consenting 18-year-olds. There is also underage drinking, once by a main character, and drug use by other characters. In terms of swearing, a biblical word is said several times, and the Lord’s name is used in vain.
If none of the above bothers you, then Cherokee Summer has a wonderful story line of a girl who loves her autistic brother and worries about his well-being. True to life, some characters pick on him and others adore him. I LOVED this part of the story, especially when able to mark the differences between characters. Anthony also includes a great suspense within the story that kept me reading. The love story shows two characters choosing their own paths in life and refusing to give up on each other, something I can appreciate as well.
As I said, I have mixed feelings. I don’t regret reading Cherokee Summer, but struggle to recommend it because of its more questionable content. If you decide to read it with the knowledge of what it includes, I have no doubt you will enjoy it.
The Official Blurb
When Ace leaves home to spend the summer in Cherokee, North Carolina the last thing she expects to find is a boyfriend—until she meets Cherokee Tribe member John Spears. As Ace and John’s friendship blossoms, they find their life experiences mirror each other and they fall in love. Despite hurdles thrown by well-meaning family members and jealous frenemies, the star-crossed lovers remain committed to their mutual belief that the universe has drawn them together. However, when Ace sends John a strange text and then suddenly disappears, the two must rely on their trust in each other to save both their lives and their love.
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I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.