This book was provided to me for free by NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review. All the following opinions are my own.
Hello, friends! It has been a while, I know. I have been taking some time off from blogging, reading, and photography for the last little bit in order to focus more on my family. My focus is still on them, for sure, but I’m making more of an effort to work more time for other things into my schedule.
My family and I just got back from an awesome trip to Las Vegas, and I spent my time on the plane reading an advance copy of Every Other Weekend by Zulema Renee Summerfield. Every Other Weekend is about a young girl named Nenny and the emotional journey she and her two brothers take when their parents divorce and their mother marries a man with two children of his own, set during the 1980s. Nenny is an anxious child, and her anxiety takes a turn for the worse as a result of her parents’ divorce, she struggles to connect with her two new step-siblings and stepfather, and her relationship with her father becomes more emotionally detached as he deals with his own feelings about the divorce.
There were several elements to Every Other Weekend that pulled me in and didn’t let go until long after I finished the book. Perhaps the most powerful was Nenny herself. Every Other Weekend is effective as a coming-of-age story, and Nenny’s voice is one that connects with readers from the very beginning. Her innocence is endearing, and as the book progresses, the insights she gains about life are poignant and well-written. Zulema Renee Summerfield effectively crafts a young character with an authentic voice without making the prose too simplistic as a result; although the story focuses on Nenny’s experiences, the observations about life as a child of divorced parents are ones that adults will understand, even if Nenny doesn’t necessarily grasp the gravity of her own experiences. Nenny is sweet and loving, and her attachment to her mother made my heart ache for her during the moments when her mother was distracted by events that Nenny struggled to comprehend.
Nenny was one character in a quirky cast, however, and I was drawn to the others as well. Following along as each of the characters changes as a result of events that take place in the book is an interesting journey, and Summerfield presents that journey as a string of memories from this time in their lives. There isn’t really one major conflict on which the story is focused, other than the blending of the two families, but this particular structure works very well for this book. Instead of introducing one problem, providing a solution, and then ending the story, Summerfield tells Nenny’s story in a much more realistic way. Real life is full of both minor and major events that shape who we are, and Nenny’s growth is the result of all of those events. For example, when Nenny’s brother, Bubbles, finds a “geode” in the garden, their stepfather’s response and Nenny’s observation of that response might seem minor at the time, but including details such as these provides deep insights into the complicated emotions both Bubbles and Rick experience as they work toward becoming part of one family.
Every Other Weekend is a wonderful read, and it evokes a sense of nostalgia for childhood and all the important lessons that accompany it, however hard some of them might be to learn. Give this one a shot, if you are looking for a book with a cute kiddo as a main character or a book that shows the messy reality of divorce and blended families and the powerful lessons they teach.