"It is the things that happen to you which no one else knows about that make you important in life," says Haley Ellyson in this captivating first novel about loss of innocence and the ties of passion and friendship. Set in Houser Banks, Mississippi, a fictional town frozen in time, Suzanne Kingsbury's debut is an intense and evocative tale of young people coming to terms with the legacy of racism over the course of a sultry Southern summer. Deserted by her mother and raised by her whiskey-drinking, gun-shooting father, beautiful Haley has broken the heart of every boy in town. Yet she hides two intimate and explosive secrets that empower her just as they threaten to undermine everything she holds dear. Haley is engaged in a dangerous flirtation with one of her father's friends when Fletcher Greel, the Judge's son, comes home for the summer, having just graduated from a New England prep school. Fletcher's friend Riley is in love with a blues-singing black girl named Crystal, and Fletcher falls instantly for Haley. These four soon become inseparable, intoxicated by love, desire, and the new-found freedoms of late adolescence. But Houser Banks is a small town where attitudes hearken back to a time of racism and hatred. As the summer wanes, disapproval of Riley and Crystal's romance takes increasingly violent turns, and Haley's secrets surface to devastating results. An enormously talented young writer, Suzanne Kingsbury has crafted a pitch-perfect, cinematic first novel rich with unforgettable characters, mesmerizing prose, and smoldering sexual tension. A fresh and vivid rendering of timeless themes, The Summer Fletcher Greel Loved Me captures the exhilaration of first love and the consequences of rebellion in a place resistant to change.
The Hartford Courant The most vivid, drenched-in-place rendering of Mississippi isn't some long-lost but newly found William Faulkner story. It's a first novel by a lifelong New Englander, Suzanne Kingsbury. With lush, lovely language, Kingsbury evokes the sultry summer heat like someone who has lived there her whole life.
William Gay author of I Hate to See That Evening Sun Go Down Kingsbury's elegy to desire and redemption and the prices you ultimately pay for them catches the reader on the first page and continues to resonate in the mind long after the epilogue is finished. Kingsbury makes an auspicious arrival, and she isn't leaving anytime soon.
Orlando Sentinel A haunting first novel...captivating...Kingsbury's prose is measured and luminous.