My Pop Culture Analysis Paper on The Summer That Melted Everything by Tiffany McDaniel.

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About a week ago I posted a little video to my Instagram account about the paper I was working on for my Magazine Writing class. I said that I might share it with all of you....Well, I decided that I indeed was going to share that paper with you. I submitted it to my professor already and have shared it with Tiffany herself. The fact that I'm sharing it with all of the readers from this blog says a lot about how confident I am with my work. This paper had specific instructions. We were to write only 850 words. Give or take 5. I love writing. It's therapeutic to me. And I aspire to be an author that many will come to love. Although Psychology is my major and love, writing is where my heart is most of the time. I think it's quite obvious how much I loved this book. I wrote a paper about it! :-)

Tiffany McDaniel published her first book titled, The Summer that Melted Everything on July 26, 2016. The book started out as "just a title and a first line" McDaniel stated during our interview. The story takes places in Breathed, Ohio in 1984, a fictional town in a state that McDaniel’s is a native of. It was one of the of those Ohio summers that made her feel as if she were "melting into a puddle at her feet." that gave her the idea for the book title.

Fielding Bliss narrates this story in present day reminiscing on memories and certain flashbacks. He speaks about the events and issues that were relevant set in 1984 like the HIV epidemic, the death of Marvin Gaye, the bubble boy, and the event of Michael Jackson’s hair catching fire while filming a Pepsi commercial. Accuracy is always the best when writing a fiction novel. This depiction made readers feel as if they have lived or are reliving the 80’s.

Each chapter begins with quotes from John Milton’s Paradise Lost. These quotes correlate with the subject matter that’s included in the chapters. For those unfamiliar with Paradise Lost, the first character introduced is Satan. The fact that every chapter introduces you to a different character makes the story even more inviting. McDaniel’s character structure is strong and well-articulated bringing them to life and telling their truths as honestly as she can.

The Summer That Melted Everything is a novel, unlike anything I have ever read. McDaniel’s writing is raw, real, and hypnotizing to the sense that readers cannot put the book down once it’s started. The imagery McDaniel’s creates stirs up a lot of emotions for readers. Frustration and sadness start to become overwhelming when layer after layer is stripped from these characters. There’s an emotional connection to these characters as we begin to see their personalities come to life.

McDaniel’s writing is similar to Mitch Albom and Harper Lee’s writing. Albom’s, Tuesdays with Morrie had a similar life lesson like McDaniel’s The Summer That Melted Everything. However, McDaniel’s book doesn’t just focus on one issue, it focuses on many others that are interlocked with one another. The Summer That Melted Everything has the potential to be another Harper Lee’s, To Kill a Mockingbird. It has the creative magic that Lee once possessed before suffering from memory loss.

The story revolves around Sal and Fielding Bliss. Sal was invited to town by Fielding’s father, Autopsy Bliss but for what reason? Was there something that he wanted, was something owed to him? Or was he just an angry man who invited the devil out of frustration to see if he ever existed? While describing the devil, Fielding states “A boy whose black crayon would be shortest in the box.”, making him sound and look broken yet innocent.

In a predominantly white town, Sal sticks out like a rose growing through concrete. His race is unknown until the townspeople call him a racial slur. The only description we do get of Sal was at the very beginning by Fielding, describing him with green eyes in “worn out overalls as if he were kneeling for a long time.” McDaniel’s creativity behind this was mysterious yet fascinating. His personality is warm and kind, which is not expected after he is claiming to be the devil.

During the summer of 1984, Bliss is just a 13-year-old boy on his way to the store during the hottest summers ever when he meets Sal. Bliss is the son of the town’s prosecutor and an agoraphobic mother, making him well-known in the town and well liked.

This book is filled with issues that run equivalent with current events happening today. Today, we are dealing with homophobia, racial profiling, religious profiling, mental health, and violence. Fear is the reason why a lot of people do a lot of things. Fear of religion, fear of sexuality, fear of the real world. Even though we may trust a person we have known our entire lives, they can have the ability and cause – their own cause, to be evil or commit evil acts. The type of people that society fears, can be the most engaging, warm-hearted humans someone will ever cross paths with.

The story of the infamous and hottest summer of Ohio is provocative, inventive, and has all the elements to turn this masterpiece into a feature film, although she’s not opposed to this book becoming a television series. The story of Sal and the townspeople is relentlessly good, so good that it is guaranteed that readers will feel an instant connection. 

McDaniel’s has completed eight novels, currently working on her ninth and hoping to follow The Summer That Melted Everything with When Lions Stood as Men. Getting this book published was not easy for her. It took her eleven hard years to get published and two years waiting for the novel to move through the publishing house. If When Lions Stood as Men is anything like her first published novel, it is sure to be marvelous. 

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