Friendship, fear and first love: One Grand Summer by Ewald Arenz tr. Rachel Ward #bookreview #OneGrandSummer #translatedfiction

Sixteen-year-old Frieder’s plans for the summer are shattered when he fails two subjects. To be able to move up to the next year in the Autumn, he needs to resit his exams. So instead of going on holiday with his family, he now faces the daunting and boring prospect of staying at his grandparents’ house, studying with his strict and formal step-grandfather.
On the bright side, he’ll spend time with his grandmother Nana, his sister Alma and his best friend Johann. And he meets Beate, the girl in the beautiful green swimsuit…
The next few weeks will bring friendship, fear and first love – one grand summer that will change and shape his entire life.
A number-one bestseller in Germany and winner of the German Booksellers Prize, One Grand Summer is a moving, beautiful and profound novel about relationships and respect that captures those exquisite and painful moments that make us who we are…


Hi and welcome to my review of One Grand Summer!

I loved this author’s previous book, Tasting Sunlight, so I was over the moon when I found out about One Grand Summer! I’d been pushing back actually reading it because I’d been teetering on the edge of a reading slump and struggling with blogging and reviewing, but even so, I just couldn’t wait any longer to read it. I apologise in advance for a crappy review, it’s the best I can do right now!

One Grand Summer does exactly what it says on the tin: it tells the story of one grand summer. Frieder’s, to be exact. Set in the early 1980s, as per my calculations, it speaks of simpler times, and it evoked a fair bit of nostalgia in me. It reminded me of The Wonder Years, and my own childhood, and the feeling of being on the cusp of a summer holiday that might just last forever.

Frieder’s summer doesn’t start in the best way, though. He’s flunked Latin and mathematics, and has to resit his exams at the end of the summer. While his parents are away for the summer, he will therefore be staying with his grandparents to study. He adores his Nana but he doesn’t really get on with his step-grandfather, so his summer prospects are not at all as rosy as he’d thought they would be.

One Grand Summer is a coming-of-age story in the span of one summer that is both small and momentous, addressing everything from friendship to that first big love, and from the war and its lingering effects to mental health issues. It was fantastic to see how Frieder gets to know and appreciate his grandfather, warts and all, and how he evolves as a person.

One Grand Summer is not at all what I typically go for in a book but even though it’s not my go-to genre, I loved every minute of it. It’s not action-packed or a thrill fest from start to finish, but it didn’t need to be, I still hung on Ewald Arenz & Rachel Ward’s every word. Speaking of: thanks as always to Rachel Ward, as my German is not nearly good enough to read an entire book and I would certainly have missed out.

I had a great time with One Grand Summer. It’s a moving, realistic tale that transported me to days long gone. (I clearly haven’t managed to shake that feeling of nostalgia yet 😅). Recommended.

One Grand Summer is out in paperback and digital formats on 18 July. Pre-order it directly from Orenda Books here.

Massive thanks to Orenda Books for the DRC. All opinions are my own.

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