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May 5, 2016

Review: An Invincible Summer by Betta Ferrendelli

review by Donna Huber

An Invincible Summer by Betta Ferrendelli was one of the books that came in right around the time when I was diagnosed with a dislocated collarbone. I was so looking forward to reading this book, but with an arm that was immobilized for 6 weeks and then didn't have the strength to even hold a book until after several weeks of physical therapy I didn't get to pick it up until April.

An Invincible Summer
Jaime Monroe pummeled the heavy bag in an Ali-like flutter of powerful punches.
The first time she put on a pair of boxing gloves, she felt like a cartoon character.
Until she hit the bag.
Then her adrenaline began to surge, sweat ran and she felt powerful.
An avid athlete, she excelled in all sports, but boxing was her outlet. It toughened her for long hours as a deputy district attorney in the Domestic Violence Unit of the Denver County District Attorney's Office. At twenty-eight, Jaime was in her third year of the demanding, high-stress job, which she worked with an ardent passion. Boxing sharpened and focused her attention, cleared her mind. It was a stress-management tool she used to turn negative emotion into positive energy.
Tonight, well into an intense workout, sweat darkened her gray T-shirt and clung to her slender back.
An image of Kelly Jo Cox's broken and battered body flashed before and Jaime stepped back from the heavy bag, tasting bile in her throat.
The opening page had me hooked and I couldn't wait to get home each day so I could read. If I could have I would have read it non-stop, unfortunately real life (ie work and sleep) didn't allow for that.

I don't know if it was the shared interest in working out or the fact that Jaime worked with victims of domestic violence, but I instantly connected with her.

Interestingly, this book isn't as dark as the opening scene implies. It also isn't heavily crime fiction or judicial procedural. I would be tempted to classify it as women's fiction. I loved the developing relationships between Jaime and Leigh and Jaime and Ashleigh. The minor characters of Erin and Tia were also great and really added a layer to the main characters.

You know I love character driven stories and An Invincible Summer is definitely all about the characters.

However, I also found the social justice issue at the center of the plot very interesting.

An Invincible Summer is set in the 1990s when great strides were being made for people with mental disabilities. Ashleigh is a twenty-something with an IQ of about 70. I don't think it is stated in the book what her disability is as in the 90s mental retardation was the umbrella term, but from the descriptions I think it is Down's Syndrome. Her mother, Leigh, is Ashleigh's legal guardian and wants to have her sterilized. In addition to her limited IQ, Ashleigh is also predisposed for diabetes as a functional hypoglycemic. Ashleigh is moving out of the group home and into a limited supervised apartment and has taken a job at the mall. This scares her mother. Leigh is afraid she will be taken advantage of and a pregnancy could be detrimental to Ashleigh's health.

The legal question at hand though is whether or not Ashleigh is mentally competent to decide to make her own decision on this matter.

And this is where my first complaint with the book came in. While it was made clear upfront in the story that the court hearing was about deciding Ashleigh's competency, once the case went to before the judge it was clearly focused on whether or not Ashleigh should have the operation and focused on her health and not so much her decision making ability.

It frustrated me, though maybe it was accurate and courts in the 1990s hearing such cases did lose the focus. But it made me question how good of a lawyer Jaime is if she didn't steer the focus through objections and opening/closing remarks. I was glad when Drew brought the real issue back to the forefront - whether or not it should be Ashleigh's choice.

My other complaint was that some of the minor plot threads didn't feel fully wrapped up or tied in a sloppy bow. I'm hoping that this is just the start of a series where we will get to see more of Jaime's life.

Overall though I really loved An Invincible Summer. Betta Ferrendelli is an excellent writer and story teller and I look forward to reading more from her. It would be a great book to toss into your beach bag this summer.

Buy An Invincible Summer at Amazon

Donna Huber, founder & publisher. Donna is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour. She reads most genres, but her favorite books are psychological thrillers and stories that highlight the survival of the human spirit against unbelievable circumstances. Donna is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer.

Book info:
available formats: ebook and print (364 pages)
published: September 2015
ISBN13: 9781518615085
genres: legal, suspense, family life
source: publicist

Top image credit:By Michael D Beckwith (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons 
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