I couldn't put this book down. It is a sensitive and authentic portrait of three small-town women who are related and who encounter enough heart-wrenching challenges during one summer to last a decade. The trio of women in this novel are characters you come to care about--that you root for, that you want good things for. Each one faces different challenges. Each one makes mistakes. It is beautifully and thoughtfully written novel that fits like your favorite cotton sweater. Toddie Downs' attention to detail and lush prose soar as does her storytelling. Shards of themes reappear throughout--honesty matters, goodness matters, intentions matter. Paced to perfection, it has mysterious elements, too, that keep the pages turning. Affirming without being saccharin, SUMMER MELODY was of my favorite novels this year.