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Review: That Burning Summer

Title: That Burning Summer
Author: Lydia Syson
Series: N/A
Length: 336 pages
Published by: Sky Pony Press
Publication date: January 24, 2017
Diversity: none
Source: eARC via NetGalley

I love historical fiction, especially books set during World War II, so when I saw this on NetGalley, I had to request it. I knew it would be really hard for me not to like it! And the perspective made it that much more intriguing - I know I've never read about a Polish pilot before.

This book is told from three perspectives: Peggy, a teenage girl living in England during the war; Ernest, her rule-following brother; and Henryk, the pilot who crashes not too far from their house. Out of the three, Henryk was by far my favorite. He was the most interesting to read about, both in the main story and as his past was revealed. I didn't really have any strong feelings one way or the other about Peggy, Ernest, or, for that matter, any of the other characters.

I think one of the reasons I liked Henryk the most is that besides his backstory, there isn't really much of a plot until the very end. There's the set-up, which is Henryk crashing and Peggy finding him. Then, there's just a lot about their lives without ever really having the feeling of moving towards something. And because of that, the ending feels really rushed - things actually start to happen, but it's too much and it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. I had to reread quite a few parts just to have any idea of what was happening. I don't mind books with slow/minimal plots if the characters are interesting, but as I said before, they really weren't.

Henryk's backstory was interesting, but it also taught me a lot about what was going on in Poland at the time. I know that things can be changed for the purposes of fiction and that I shouldn't treat this as a history book, but since I knew so little about that place and that time, it gave me a good general understanding of how things were. After reading this, I'll definitely be looking out for other books with similar settings.

I feel like this review sounds overly negative. I liked this book, it just didn't impress me. And I think that, especially in a spoiler-free review, it's a lot easier to talk about what didn't work for me rather than what did.

Goodreads description:
It's July 1940 on the south coast of England. A plane crash-lands in the marsh, and sixteen-year-old Peggy finds its broken pilot - a young Polish airman named Henryk. Afraid and unwilling to return to the fight, Henryk needs a place to hide, and Peggy helps him find his way to a remote, abandoned church.
Meanwhile, Peggy's eleven-year-old brother Ernest is doing his best to try to understand the war happening around him. He's reading all the pamphlets - he knows all the rules, he knows exactly what to do in every situation. He's prepared, but not for Peggy's hidden pilot.
Told in alternating points of view, this is a beautifully written story about growing up in wartime and finding the difference between following the rules and following your heart.


  1. This sounds like a good book! I mean, I love anything historical fiction, so I'm basically sold right there. It does seem kind of boring and slow though. Great review, Clara! I'm excited to check this out now :)


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