Saturday, September 7, 2019

Speaking of Summer by Kalisha Buckhanon

Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Pages: 288 pages
Published: July 2019 

I can't remember where I first heard about Speaking of Summer by Kalisha Buckhanon, but as soon as I read the synopsis, I knew I had to add it to my to-be-read list. I enjoy a good mystery, and I was excited that this one featured African American women. Additionally, I found the twin element intriguing. The publisher, via the synopsis, describes this book as follows:

"On a cold December evening, Autumn Spencer's twin sister Summer walks to the roof of their shared Harlem brownstone and is never seen again—the door to the roof is locked, and no footsteps are found. Faced with authorities indifferent to another missing woman, Autumn must pursue answers on her own, all while grieving her mother's recent death.
With her friends and neighbors, Autumn pretends to hold up through the crisis. She falls into an affair with Summer's boyfriend to cope with the disappearance of a woman they both loved. But the loss becomes too great, the mystery too inexplicable, and Autumn starts to unravel, all the while becoming obsessed with murdered women and the men who kill them."

Sounds good, right? Well, if that was the story I read I would agree. This was my biggest issue with the book - the synopsis - hence the 4-star (rather than 5) rating. Because the synopsis is was drew me to this book in the first place, I felt a little cheated after having completed it.

The story I read, I thoroughly enjoyed. It was a little slow to start, and I was a little put off by Autumn and some of her behavior, but the book kept tugging at me and I kept reading it - finishing in just two days. But the book is not a "literary thriller" as described. I would say it is more of a psychological study of how major trauma affects women and how it can be dangerous just living as a woman, a Black woman, in the United States. The prose is enticing. Ms. Buckhanon has a way with words that, as a lover of words and collector of quotations, I can appreciate. The plot twist is interesting but expected, with the indicators that the author placed leading up to it. Once this twist is revealed, the novel changes course and becomes a more complete piece of literary fiction focusing on a very important and relevant topic.

Recommendation I don't want to give too many specifics to spoil this book for potential readers. I do highly recommend it. Just go into knowing the published synopsis is a bit misleading. Read it through the lens of violence against women and healing from it in the age of the me-too movement.

Until next time ... Read on!

Regardless of whether I purchase a book, borrow a book, or receive a book in exchange for review, my ultimate goal is to be honest, fair, and constructive. I hope you've found this review helpful.


  1. Your review of this book was excellent; I got your point without being spoiled and it was not discouraging the read just preparing you for it!

  2. Thank you! I always try to review without spoilers! ☺️