This Just Can’t Be Summer Love

I’m not someone who yearns for a stereotypical beach read only at the beach or only during the summer. In fact, I could devour beach reads/chick lit/intriguing female writing any time of year. But when the temps start rising outside, there’s no reason why they can’t start rising in my books too, so when Reese Witherspoon’s book club announced a “sexy-as-hell” novel for June, I immediately requested it.

Don’t get me wrong; Seven Days in June is sexy. I read parts of it on an airplane and initially tried to hide my Kindle from my aislemates because of some racy scenes. However, it wasn’t as sexy as I anticipated, nor was the sexiness its best part. On the contrary, the book’s mother-daughter relationship endeared me and intrigued me nearly as much if not more than the main romantic relationship.

This was a welcome surprise; not because chick lit doesn’t have depth, but because you expect the racy scenes to reign supreme. In doing so, Tia Williams proved that there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to the genre. I’ve only been saying it for, um, forever.

“Prose before bros.”

Seven Days in June

Eva Mercy has had anything but an easy life. Her single and negligent mother constantly moved them around when Eva was a child, and she cared more about finding men to pay for their living rather than providing consistency, love, and support. On top of that, Eva has long lived with chronic and debilitating migraines — an invisible disease that Eva feels the need to keep hidden.

Despite these hardships, Eva’s made a good life for herself. She lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn (definitely an upgrade from her childhood homes) and sends her daughter, Audre, to a fancy private school, setting up the teenager for a successful future. This is all thanks to Eva’s successful career as a bestselling erotica author. While Eva may write a lot about sex, she certainly doesn’t experience much of it in her own life. That is, until her young love, Shane Hall, shows up unexpectedly looking to apologize.

Her reunion with Shane brings up a lot of past trauma, much of which comes from the dramatic, lustful, and nearly fatal week they spent together as teenagers. Those seven days uncovered a lot of demons, as well as a lot of sexual desire, which will once again be piqued in the present seven days in Brooklyn. While she reconnects with Shane, Eva can’t help but protect her heart from the man who once broke it as a boy. If only he weren’t the one person who understands Eva’s pain and the one person who can influence her to want more.

“Girls are given the weight of the world, but nowhere to put it down. The power and magic born in that struggle? It’s so terrifying to men that we invented reasons to burn y’all at the stake, just to keep our dicks hard.”

Seven Days in June

I recognize that my summary says little about Eva’s relationship with her daughter, Audre. And if you read other summaries of this novel, you won’t even read Audre’s name, which breaks my heart a bit. As I said in the intro, the mother-daughter relationship was my favorite part of Seven Days in June and definitely the most impactful. Given that this relationship is discussed very little in summaries and press for this book, I wonder if Williams didn’t intend for it to have the level of magnitude I experienced.

The scenes between Eva and Audre were the strongest and not because I didn’t enjoy those between Eva and Shane. The ladies just had hilarious banter, and it was heartwarming to read about a relationship that carried more weight than the romantic one. Audre also genuinely wants her mom to be happy, and she’s funny and incredibly woke. I laughed out loud during many Audre scenes because Williams’ characterization of her was so spectacular.

“Running away wasn’t empowering. An empowered woman would’ve indulged.”

Seven Days in June

It’s also possible that I enjoyed Eva and Audre’s relationship more than Eva and Shane’s because Williams fleshed out the former more than the latter. Unfortunately, the book lacked some consistency and felt a little all over the place.

“The structure of the novel is complex but ultimately rewarding and provides a portrait of a richly layered world,” Kirkus wrote.

Ehh I’m not sure the complex structure worked that well, which is why I can’t grant it a full five flames. Because of the book’s structure, for example, I couldn’t really tell what the climax was (no pun intended). And it made me a little confused when understanding the depth of Eva and Shane’s relationship (which is impressive considering they only spent seven days together in their youth, but I digress). I could get over that confusion, though, because, as Kirkus stated, Williams created such a layered world.

“And here’s what’s really good … The publishing industry has a hard time processing Black characters unless we’re suffering … We’re expected to write about trauma, oppression, or slavery, because those are easily marketable Black tropes.”

Seven Days in June

Seven Days in June not only provides important observations about the Black community. It also covers addiction, co-dependency, motherhood, invisible disease, self-harm, and inherited trauma, especially among Black Americans. That may seem like a lot, but these themes align well and exacerbate one other, and Williams gives each an appropriate amount of space. Highlighting these themes provides this chick-lit novel a depth that is typically overlooked in the genre even though it’s generally present.

So, yes, this book gets pretty deep, and, yes, I loved the mother-daughter relationship the most. But that does not mean I didn’t also thoroughly enjoy the interactions (aka the sex) between Eva and Shane. Granted, it wasn’t quite as spicy as Reese Witherspoon’s Instagram post made it sound. But I still got a particularly saucy scene in a weird napping museum, as well as some orgasming after gelato. So I can’t be mad about that. Just as important, though, I felt like Williams expertly crafted these characters, and she did so with a lot of wit and humor. In essence, Williams combined some heavy material with some very sexy scenes while making me laugh along the way. That makes for excellent reading any time of the year — not just summer.

“Mysterious pasts weren’t unusual for transplanted New Yorkers. Moving to New York was about reinvention. If you didn’t want that, you stayed in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Once you crossed the Verrazano Bridge, you were free to shed skin. The Dallas trust fundie became a Red Hook hipster. The Tennessee hillbilly became a well-married tastemaker. In New York, you were who you said you were.”

Seven Days in June

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