Book Review: ‘One Summer,’ by David Baldacci

A reader writes in with a reminder of why we read books—and that's the highest praise any book author could ask for.

As a senior editor for Reader’s Digest Select Editions, I read a lot of books. I also read a lot of emails and letters from our readers about those books.

A few weeks ago, I received an e-mail in response to One Summer by David Baldacci, a poignant family drama from an author who’s known primarily for his pulse-pounding thrillers. In One Summer, Jack, a father of three, is dying of an unnamed disease. Double tragedy strikes when Jack’s wife is killed in a car accident. Distraught, Jack waits to die…but doesn’t. He feels his wife pulling him back to life, and with this strength he puts his shattered family back together.

While cynics among us might find this melodrama over-the-top, the reader who reached out saw it differently. “My English is not very good so I need a dictionary or thesaurus to find vocabularies,” he wrote. “It takes long time to understand one paragraph. So practically, I give up reading books after only two chapters. But when I start reading Mr. Baldacci’s One Summer, I see some kind of hope that I can finish one story. And I did!” He mentioned that what he liked most about the story was that Jack too never gave up and concluded, “This story gave a feeling that I never had, and motivation that I can start reading books, little by little. Maybe some day I can write a book like them.”

I don’t know if David Baldacci would agree, but to me, this feedback was more meaningful than a rave review in a national newspaper. Thank you, reader friend, for reminding me about the importance of books in everyone’s lives.

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Amy Reilly
Amy Reilly is executive editor of Reader’s Digest Select Editions.