This review is late in arriving. I bought The Summer of Frogs a while back, but—as is often the case with me—I was not ready to read a novel of this sort. I will explain that.
The Summer of Frogs is a veritable cloud of uncertainties with a bright ray of sunshine somewhere above the overcast sky. You can feel the glow as you read the novel. This is a first person story about a young woman with problems; most would say mental problems, possibly schizophrenic. One wonders, throughout the telling, if anything Claire experiences is real or not. Her problems start after she suffers a dog attack, but the dog may not have been a dog at all. It could have been something otherworldly. Then, while raving in her bedroom, bleeding from self-mutilation, Claire meets a man, Tommy, who may have arrived to finish her existence. But he doesn't.
The title is almost a red herring until you look at the book cover again after reading a certain small anecdote the protagonist relates about a park filled with artisans. The cover is art by the author. It's absolutely beautiful. I never fail to stare at it. And now attach this conception of artistry to the prose. That's Tressa Green's gift: imagery, some of which is pure poetry.
Ok, back to not being able to read this for a few months: it's mostly because I'm a rather linear sort of reader/writer and tend to choose action-filled novels, but The Summer of Frogs is a cloud of events. The author can leave you wandering in that cloud (which, I remind you, has a glow from that hidden ray of sunlight) and while you're in the cloud wandering, you're often musing on what you should think about the latest thing Claire said. You keep reading, thinking you'll figure Claire out later, but you once more end up pondering truths after the author skillfully leads you to believe in Claire's sanity again, and all throughout, there is this poetic imagery.
While reading it, I started thinking of this cloud as a soft sort of coral with branches leading off. Claire tends to branch at random, but one always comes back to that bright main trunk again. This story is as much about accepting loss of control as it is about anything else. And you can feel that loss of control. You can see Claire being selfish and then generous, blind and then radiant. She's really fractal. But that main trunk of story draws you back inward, the story about Claire and Tommy and whether their relationship—a strange composite of fear, love, closeness, dependence and independence—can survive their enemies.
Ok, up front and honest, I know Tressa Green from working on line with her. Her grammar and punctuation in this story needs work (she'll probably laugh after reading that, because it's just like me to say so, very blunt like). If I gave her five out of five stars for the writing, it wouldn't be fair. She really needs to buckle down on the grammar and punctuation. This brilliant piece of work deserves smoother grammar and punctuation. But enough editorial harping. I am giving her five out of five, and it's because of the cover art. That deserves a ten out of five, but yeah, Smashwords won't let me do that.
Keep doing what you do, Tressa—and get better at the punctuation and grammar. :-) Well done, you. Once I finally picked the story up for a proper read, digested it all in a day. Awesome cloud!
P.S. Would have given Tressa a four out of five for the story, but you know, the cover. Really beautiful.
(reviewed 9 months after purchase)