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Reviewed by Joe Wisinski for Readers' Favorite
Summer of Love and Evil by Michael Kinnamon is set in small-town Iowa in 1967. Charles Weaver has just graduated from high school as the valedictorian and he’s working for the summer on his hometown street crew before starting college. He works with several memorable characters, whom he grows to like and admire, even though they have little in common. The local sheriff is an antagonist, giving some members of the street crew a hard time that’s not warranted. Meanwhile, Charles becomes involved with a woman who’s two years older than him, even though they come from different social circles. When a historic church building burns down, Charles, who’s assigned to the cleanup crew, makes a shocking discovery. There is a mind-boggling scene when Charles and his girlfriend are about to have their first sexual experience together, but then the sheriff shows up . . .
I enjoyed this novel from start to finish. There are many plot twists and turns, and the interactions between Charles, his family, the street crew, and his girlfriend are true-to-life. The author also realistically portrays the sexual tension between the inexperienced Charles and his girlfriend, who has a bit of a reputation. Summer of Love and Evil is Michael Kinnamon’s first novel, but he’s clearly a talented writer. I recommend his book to anyone, especially those who want to be taken back to the trials, yet life-changing experiences of their own late teenage years. One caveat: although Charles, his girlfriend, and most other characters are church-going Christians there is a surprising amount of drinking and rough language, along with sexual references.