Sunday, November 2, 2014

Just 18 Summers by Rene Gutteridge and Michelle Cox

This tender book about families will make you laugh and cry.

Parents have their children for just 18 summers. How can parents make the best of those summers, creating memories while influencing their children to become godly adults? The authors have created a novel that gives readers the opportunity to follow four families through a summer.

Butch is trying to figure out single parenthood after his wife was recently killed in an automobile accident. He has Ava, a darling and perceptive child. Butch is floundering, evidenced by dressing Ava in her only clean top, a Christmas sweater, for the sweltering May high school graduation of her cousin.

Beth and Larry are facing their son going to college at the end of summer. Their daughter is home for the summer from her college studies. She drops a bombshell when she announces she's getting married at the end of summer – to a pizza delivery guy. Struggling with all the crashing dreams they had for their daughter, with their son leaving soon, Beth and Larry wonder how they can make the best of this last family summer.

Daphne is pregnant. She's read every book, watched every video. She's driving her husband, Tippy, crazy with all her fears. Organic food, bumpers on all the sharp edges in their home. She even wonders if it is too early to send for SAT help books.

Helen and Charles have given their children everything money can buy. But what their children really wanted was time and snuggling love. Helen demanded perfection from their children and disdains the sloppy, fun loving children in other families. Now their oldest, valedictorian, full college scholarship, is leaving the home. Away so often on business trips, Charles struggles with what he has missed with his daughter.

The four couples know each other, through work, church, marriage, or a scrap book group. The authors cleverly interweave the families, showing the different parenting styles and their results. In that respect, this becomes a book showing attempts at family life. Some have sweet results while others are not so positive.

The authors have mixed humorous scenes with sobering ones. Ava needs “homemade” cupcakes for school and when Butch asks Larry to help, I laughed out loud. “This isn't rocket science. … Let's bake the cake first, then we'll worry about shaping them.” And Ava is such a darling. She steals the show when she goes with her dad to his construction site and wins over his crew of hard working men.

This is a delightful novel for every parent. We see lessons learned in each of the families. Ultimately, each must rely on the Lord for their parenting efforts. Some have the future with their child before them while others must grieve time lost. I highly recommend this novel.

Check out the blog at

Rene Gutteridge is the award-winning and best selling author of twenty-two novels. Her indie film, Skid, is due to release this year. She has collaborated or co-written other film projects.
Michelle Cox is the food blogger for Fox News personality Todd Starnes and a contributing writer for WHOAwomen magazine, and has been published on She teaches at Christian writing and media conferences. She and her husband have three sons and five grandchildren with another on the way. You can find out more at or

Tyndale House, 375 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through The Book Club Network for the purpose of an independent and honest review.

No comments: