Bella Pollen's newest book, The Summer of the Bear, was my first introduction to Pollen's work. Set in 1980, Letty Fleming and her children are moving to a Scottish island after the death of Letty's husband, an embassy worker who died accidentally.
When questions about her husband's work come up, it is difficult for the family to continue to defend the man they thought they knew. Especially struggling is Jamie, Letty's young son, who refuses to believe his father is dead. Now in his new home, Jamie has decided that a bear that is on the loose is really his father, and Jamie looks for this bear wherever he goes. His older sisters, Georgie and Alba are struggling in their own way as is their mother.
I enjoyed the storyline of this novel, and also the Scottish setting, a locale I rarely read of in books. While this is not a mystery, there is a bit of suspense and the unknown as Letty and Tom, her husband's good friend, try to understand Nicky's death that came so unexpectedly. Georgie, the oldest daughter may be able to shed some light on things, as she and her father took a trip to East Berlin shortly before his death. Georgie is worried that what she reveals may implicate her father in something, so tries to keep what she knows to herself.
While I am normally not someone who enjoys any narration by animals, there are brief chapters narrated by the bear in this story. And, despite the fact that I don't much believe that Nicky became the bear- like Jamie believed- I could almost hear Nicky's voice in those chapters, and it seemed entirely believable.
The Summer of the Bear will make a nice summer read. Thanks to Atlantic Monthly Press for the ARC sent for my review.