I was blessed to receive a copy of the book Just 18 Summers by Michelle Cox and Rene Gutteridge.
From the back cover:
“After the tragic death of Butch Browning’s wife, Jenny, four families begin to realize how precious—and fleeting—their time together is. Each is at a different stage in life: Butch is facing single parenthood. The O’Reillys are expecting their first child. The Andersons are approaching an empty nest, and the Buckleys are so focused on providing their children with everything that they’ve forgotten what they truly need. With just eighteen summers before their children are grown, how do they make the most of that time when life so often gets in the way? As summer flies by, each of these parents must learn about guilt and grace . . . and when to hold on to their kids and when to let go.”
I want to begin by saying that the only negative view I had of the book was fleeting. At first, I really didn’t like how each chapter was focused on one person. But that changed after a few chapters – I soon found it to be comforting to see everyone’s own personal story. Nothing was ever repeated, so it wasn’t boring (some points-of-view books repeat the same scenes over and over, only changing the perspective. This book does NOT do that.)
I really wanted to read this book, just from the title alone. It made me take pause; I was totally intrigued by it. Thinking you have eighteen years with your child makes it feel like a long time. However, when you think you only have eighteen summers together, the time seems much more fleeting. Why is this? I still don’t know, but it just feels shorter.
I can’t believe I only have eight more summers with my oldest son. Truly, that’s crazy and it really made me stop and think and want to take advantage of every single moment of every single day I have with him and his brothers.
This book came at just the right time for me. My husband and I have been talking about leaving a legacy for our kids. 18 Summers fits in perfectly with that, and gave me lots of practical (and emotional) advice to help me turn some mistakes around.
This honestly has no bearing on the story, except to tell you that there is humor found in the book: The scene in the mall dress store (with the lady with the coupons) made me laugh out loud. Poor Butch!
I love how Just 18 Summers is in story form. I enjoy reading novels so much more than application or self-help style books.
One thing that struck me: It’s so easy to read about a situation and yell out loud: “Your kid needs your attention right now!” before you realize you do the same thing with your kid. You know, the “Not right now, honey. In a minute…” But some days, the “minute” your child is waiting for never comes. And some day, your child isn’t going to want to spend any time with you. It’s a real blow. Shows things a little clearer. It made me decide that it doesn’t matter what I’m doing: when one of my boys needs my attention, I will focus only on him. I want them to know how important they are to me, that I’m really listening, and that I care so much for them.
This brings to mind a song by Steve and Annie Chapman, that I have always loved, Goodnight Kiss. Funny how I’ve always loved it, even as a kid myself, but I forget the simple truth in it. Same with the Cat’s in the Cradle song. It’s exactly the same theme of this book: Every moment is important. Make every moment count. Time is fleeting.
I wanted to share a few of the quotes I had to underline because I loved them so much (just a few – there were many more I loved!):
“…time is…well, it’s like a cancer of sorts, I guess. It eats whatever is in its path and never stops.” – Larry
“When your child is born, eighteen years seems like they’ll last forever. But it goes by in a blink. You have just eighteen summers to make memories together. You can’t go back and rewind those days.” – Franklin
“The hardest thing to realize is that from the day they are born, you’re training them up to leave you.” – Dr Reynolds
“Sometimes the days will seem really long…but just remember, the years are really short.” – Beth
My favorite person was Dr Reynolds, even though he was a pretty one-sided character (which was totally appropriate in the book). I found myself wanting to see his family story. Does he really have his family life all together, like he seems to in his office?
I related to many different people in the story. Sometimes I felt like our family was closer to Daphne and Tippy’s (mainly their dynamics), other times, it was Beth and Larry’s. The attitude issues Butch dealt with are also familiar! I feel that parents in pretty much any situation can relate to this story, and learn a lot from it. I might actually give it as a baby shower gift!
Just 18 Summers was well-written, engaging, and wonderful. I would recommend it to any parent, whether they think they have it all together or not.
Thank you to Tyndale House for the complimentary copy. Though I received it at no cost, it did not influence my review at all. My opinions are honest and 100% my own.
What do you think? Does this sound like a book you might want to read?