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Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite
Blow Out Summer is a work of fiction in the adventure, slice-of-life, and coming-of-age subgenres. It is best suited to the general adult reading audience owing to some references to drug culture and other adult activity. Penned by author Denise Ann Stock, in this thrilling tale of relationship drama with a dark twist, we are introduced to the surfer culture of the mid-1970s in California. A predominantly female-led group sees protagonist Dee Dee at the center of events, but the wealth around her in Huntington Beach doesn’t seem to protect her from the more dangerous side of her surfing hobby when she is introduced to the world of drugs.
Author Denise Ann Stock has crafted a beautifully penned and realistic character study that also perfectly encapsulates a fascinating subculture, as well as all the social and emotional constructions around it. The novel feels like a fully immersive step into the recent past, with plenty of work put into the atmosphere, nostalgia, and spirit of surf culture and the easy breezy way of 1970s California. This works as a fantastically stark contrast to the reality of drug trafficking and drug taking, giving the work a darker, sharper edge as Stock gradually picks away at the veneer of fun, sun, sea, and sand. Dee Dee’s journey is deeply emotive, peppered with some very telling dialogue that allows us to see her struggle as she tries to balance the elements from her family life and upbringing against her new experiences, and often fails to do so with big life lessons as a result. Overall, I would certainly recommend Blow Out Summer as an original and heartfelt read encapsulating a powerful era and a strong coming-of-age storyline.