This novel follows Jack, a man suffering from a terminal disease. Watching him die are his three children and his wife, Lizzie, all of whom have accepted that this is their fate. As Jack’s strength slowly leaves him, he spends his solitary nights writing letters for Lizzie to read once he is gone, encouraging her to move on, and content that his children will be alright- until the night Lizzie gets into a fatal car accident. Stricken with grief and still losing his health, he says his last goodbye to his children. After leaving them with family, Jack moves into a hospice to die.
However, Jack doesn’t die. Little by little, Jack’s illness slowly disappears, a feat his doctor once said was impossible. Once he has medical approval, Jack retrieves his children and moves them to his wife’s childhood home on the South Carolina coast. Once there, Jack and his kids explore Lizzie’s world. As they grieve for their loss and embrace new experiences, Jack becomes closer to his children than ever before.
This genre surprisingly suits Baldacci, who previously made a name for himself writing mysteries. A compelling story in the vein of Nicholas Sparks’ novels, One Summer is one that will be hard to put down. Although some scenes with Jack’s daughter Mikki are a bit worn down and overly dramatized (a rebellious teenager, who could have ever guessed?), every other emotion in this book is legitimate and heartwarming. One Summer is a thoughtful book that you’ll be reluctant to finish too early, not unlike an August evening.