Family Secrets and Fireworks in Kelly Simmons’ ‘The Fifth of July’

One of my favorite aspects of a good book is the way it transports me to another time or place, far from the daily grind. I want to fall into a world with a setting so vivid, I can taste the salt on my lips and hear the cry of a foghorn. Kelly Simmons captures Nantucket life to a “T” in The Fifth of July; the sea-worn clapboard and constant turmoil of the ocean, the grit of sand and crumbling rock. The distinct look of old New England money, and the push and pull between locals and visitors. I saw, smelled, and felt it all.

But that’s not all.

Simmons weaves a multi-layered plot carried by a cast of quirky characters, all imbued with distinct voices in an intimate first-person narrative. I couldn’t help but latch on to their stories. It seemed as if they were speaking to me directly, revealing their secrets while the truth unravels.

Dysfunctional families make for excellent fodder in fiction, and the Warners definitely have their share of baggage. As do the local cleaning lady and caretaker, who are never quite at ease when outsiders flood the island. When Tripp, the patriarch of the family goes missing, it’s anyone’s guess who did it. The web of deceit untangles one page at a time, and you think you know what happened on that fateful 4th of July—until the direction of the story twists, and you change your mind all over again.

As engrossing as it is eloquent, this book will change the way you view a beach read. A winner! I look forward to reading more from this author.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kelly is a former journalist and creative advertising director who started writing fiction over fifteen years ago, while studying creative writing and screenwriting at Temple University and University of Pennsylvania. In addition to her critically acclaimed novels Standing Still, The Bird House, One More Day and The Fifth of July, she is developing a TV series and has been writing a memoir for what seems like her entire life. She teaches at Drexel University Storylab and is a member of The Liars Club writing mentorship collective, Tall Poppy Writers, and Binders Full of Women Writers.

 

 

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