Book Review: Summer of the Cicacadas-Cole Lavalais

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Home. What do you think about when you hear the word ring in your ears? Is it a physical place, a spiritual one, something intangible? Home strikes deep beneath our veins; our cords where our spirits lie. It is something that can be found and lost at the same time. Home has been stripped from people of many races. It has been picked, pried into, destroyed, built, restructured, refurbished. Home has been cooked into a ball that we swallow, unsure of the taste, or place, or face. Do you know your home and where you come from?

This summer is all about self care, and reading books by black authors. Diving into titles and authors that are skimmed over at the bookstore, this summer is about creating a space for the many voices of literature.  Cole Lavalais has created a book that left me completely speechless and in awe. Summer of the Cicadas is an enchanting story about a girl defining home and in the process, dealing with a darkness that lurks in every corner. The strong yet fragile Viola Moon enters into a small and southern black college in an attempt to gain a part of her sanity. However she finds it difficult to adjust to life outside of her mother’s home. Viola is intrigued with those that have a legacy and a sense of home, which is why she connects with Perry, the son of an elite black family. Their relationship symbolizes something for each of them. Viola is searching for a father figure to give her life validation, it’s the idea that home starts at the root, and Viola is searching for the beginning. Throughout the novel, Cole Lavalais brings us up many issues that are faced by black families, black men, and black women. This story is riveting, difficult, and deep.

I am not what I pretend to be, so that means I can never stop pretending. I am not what I pretend to be, so if I stop  pretending they will know and I will be stuck in between here and there.

I must admit, that although this book was not long, it did take a while to read, because it is extremely thought provoking and at times difficult to sift through. Lavalais is an extremely talented writer, and I hope more people can read her novel. This novel resonated deep with me, and I really liked the character of Viola Moon. She is someone who is troubled and is just searching for a connect with roots, a history. My only critique is I wish the editor edited more carefully as there were slight grammatical errors and misspellings. This one is a treasure, and is definitely a favorite of the year so far. This book is great for self healing, as it might answers some questions to those wondering about “home.” Summer of the Cicadas is a passionate yet distant look at the mental health of an individual and how it affects the past, present, and future. Filled with symbolism and mysticism, Lavalais buries history, legacy, and gender into a novel that should be read and re-read.

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