Adam can't commit to having a baby with his wife Julie. With his marriage on the line, his therapist Dr Marchand thinks it's time he confronts his past. So Adam travels back to Brown Bear Lake where a life-changing incident occurred twenty-five years earlier in 1983, when he was fifteen.
We are taken back to a month-long vacation with his extended Polish-Italian family, including Adam's distant cousin Dannie. We are treated to an idyllic summer filled with family, good food, drinking, clever pranks, singing around the bonfire, volleyball tournaments, fishing, and sexual discovery. All the while, we feel the darker undercurrents of a failed marriage, a dying family member, extra-marital affairs, family arguments, a wild bear, and a final tragedy that will make this Adam's last summer at Black Bear Lake.
The story starts off in 2008, but flashes back to when Adam meets Julie. We are then treated to an extended flashback to 1983. There are even flashbacks within this flashback. While mostly well-told, I found Gramps' 1939 war-time flashback to be particularly stiff and unemotional, especially given the subject matter. There are numerous editing errors including capitalization, punctuation, word repetition, incorrect word placement, and missing words. There are also so many relatives to keep track of that the author herself uses the incorrect name a couple of times.
While reading the book, I felt the story contained too much about the family vacation. There were too many events, the pranks were fun but irrelevant, and there were too many names to remember. I kept expecting something to happen, but nothing did. Until it did. All is forgiven. I can now see how the story fits together. Everything is relevant. And on top of that, the writing is beautiful. Stick with it and you will be rewarded.
Warnings: underage drinking, sex, swearing, violence.
I received this book in return for an honest review.