Sure, it's unusual to have an eighteen-year-old mother when you're twelve. But when you're an orphan and she's your aunt and the only mother you've ever had-well, as I explained, it had worked out real well. That's why I got so riled up when I heard Grandpa and Uncle Charlie talkin' about findin' a fella for Auntie Lou! You see, somethin' had to be done! I couldn't just sit back and watch our special family get broken up. But with Grandpa and Uncle Charlie workin' so hard to get Auntie Lou married off, I had a job cut out for me. Then, when that poor preacher came along and everything got really complicated. And maybe you'll find out what I found out about the best kind of family, I mean.
To be fair, I have read Inspirational/Christian Fiction in the past. Although I wouldn’t consider myself a “fan” of the genre, I find the wholesome and positive story lines a satisfying remedy to my typically cynical self. In this case, the storyline seemed to cover an interesting, non-Amish subject, and what little I had heard about Oke lead me to believe the novel would be low on the “Bible Thumping” and “Repent or Die” scale. I was pleased on all fronts.
Following the life of an orphaned farm boy, raised by his young aunt and other relatives, Once Upon a Summer does not try too hard to be “religious”. In fact, what I enjoyed about the book, was the uncharacteristic inclusion of very “non-christian” thoughts (i.e., hoping his Great Grandfather would die on his way to their home so that he wouldn’t have to live with them) – I guess that was my cynical side coming out. Of course, there is an underlying message that to be good in the eyes of man is to be good in the eyes of God (and in some cases, vice versa), it is subtle enough and sufficiently integrated into the plot that the reading experience is not jarring to the casual reader (i.e., those not reading it specifically for its Christian content).
The arrival of Josh's great-grandfather shakes things up a bit, as does his grandfather's determination to find a suitable young man for Lou.
The book is a well-drawn picture of life in a bygone era in the US, with a surprising amount of human interest. I found tears welling up more than once as I read. There's some rather overt Christian content at the end which might irritate some readers, but it's not over-the-top, and in the context of the story is relevant and believable.
All in all, I enjoyed it. Suitable for teens or older children as well as adults.
I have loved Janette Oke’s books since I was young girl when I read her Love Comes Softly book (I never managed to get to the second and subsequent books until many years later). All of Janette Oke’s books are written with the utmost care and love. The characters in her books are lovingly
Overall I enjoyed this book like I have for all the other books that I have read of hers. I gave it 4 stars.