Susan Crandall weaves a compelling, heartbreaking saga and a sensitive portrait of mental illness in her 12th novel, The Myth of Perpetual Summer. In the wake of family tragedy, Tallulah James left her Mississippi hometown at age 17, determined never to look back. But when her baby brother Walden is accused of murder nine years later, Tallulah leaves her carefully constructed life in San Francisco to see if she can help him. Her journey back home unleashes a flood of memories, and as she tries to build a case for Walden's defense, Tallulah is forced to reckon with her family's ghosts.
Crandall (Whistling Past the Graveyard) tells the story in Tallulah's voice, shifting between the adult Tallulah's return to Mississippi in 1972 and her growing-up years in the early 1960s. The child of two brilliant, mercurial parents whose volatile relationship caused tongue-wagging in town, Tallulah coped by caring for her younger twin siblings and relying on her staunch Southern grandmother. But Granny James's pride and Tallulah's own strong will were no match for her family's brokenness. Crandall deftly explores the fault lines created by Tallulah's parents and the events that led her to flee and build her own life in California. Walden's murder charge is only a pretext for the far more interesting story of a young woman struggling to come to terms with her family's past and face her own future. Laced with sweet tea and pimiento cheese, Crandall's novel is as Southern as it is satisfying. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams