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Just 18 Summers by Rene Gutteridge & Michelle Cox

What a sweet read! If you are a parent this book is going to make you think. I think with raising five children with my husband and now being a grandparent, this book was all the more poignant for me. I could relate to most of the characters in one way or another. 

This story opens with a graduation and a party. Lets face it. Not every day is a party. Some stand out more than others. Some we wish we had a do over. Being a parent is a roller coaster ride. We see that through the characters in this story. Each family seems to be facing a different situation at the time. 

There is Butch and his daughter, Ava. Their home is now absent of the love of Butch's life and the mother that would guide Ava is so many ways. Butch doesn't exactly know how to be involved in Ava's life. He worked and counted on Jenny to be with his daughter. Now he is looking back and realizing just how much time he has wasted. We see how both are struggling in different ways with the death of Jenny. 

There is Charles and Helen. They are a super busy family and these parents love to gift their children. Can you relate to this? I think every parent can relate to this couple in one way or another. They love their children by giving them all they can. There seems to be nothing out of their reach. We see the struggles this family faces through the choices they have made. 

Tippy and Daphne are first time parents. As the story begins they are awaiting their first born. The sweet babe comes and now life has changed forever. They are anxious that they won't make all the right decisions. I too remember those days of bringing home my daughter all wrapped in pink. 

Larry and Beth are the parents I think I could relate to the most. The empty nest can be a transition that knocks you off your feet. With one leaving for college and one announcing she is getting married, wow, that's enough to bring a parent to their knees. 

This is one of those stories that is so eye opening and one that every parent and grandparent can relate to. There were parts that brought tears as I remembered our 18 summers and parts where I giggled with the reality these characters were facing. 

I love the message the Rene and Michelle share throughout this story. We have a choice. We can be involved and embrace every moment of our 18 summers or we can look back once the nest is empty with a heart of regret. Each summer seems to fly by. I hear parents saying how happy they will be glad when school begins. But those summers go by quicker than any of us realize. Pretty soon we are watching our grandchildren learn to crawl. 

I truly enjoyed this novel. The walk away gift from the message is priceless. It is not only a gentle whisper to embrace today, but one that brings forth every emotion possible. 

This novel was a gift from Tyndale for sharing my review with you. 

Michelle Cox is a speaker, songwriter, conference and webinar instructor, and the author of seven books.  She has been a guest on numerous radio and television programs, including Hannity, The Harvest Show and Focus on the Family. Most importantly, she's a wife, mom to three sons, and grandmother of five perfect grandchildren. Visit her websites at: and

Rene Gutteridge is the award-winning and bestselling author of twenty-two novels, including her latest releases, Misery Loves Company (suspense), Greetings from the Flipside (comedy), and Heart of the Country (drama). Her recent suspense titles also include ListenPossession, and Escapement. She has novelized seven screenplays and movies, including two new releases due out in 2014, Just 18 Summers and Old FashionedNever the Bride, a romantic comedy with screenwriter Cheryl McKay, won the Carol Award in 2010 for best women's fiction.

Her indie film—the comedy Skid, based on her novel—is in postproduction and due to release in 2014. Rene is a creative consultant on Boo, a film based on her beloved novel series, which is in development at Sodium Entertainment with Cory Edwards attached as director and Andrea Nasfell as screenwriter. Rene is also a cowriter in a collaborative comedy project called The Last Resort with screenwriters Torry Martin and Marshal Younger. Find Rene on Facebook and Twitter or at her website,


Michelle Cox said…
Robin, thanks so much for taking time to read and write a review for Just 18 Summers! I hope folks will also join us at our parenting blog at How many summers do YOU have left with your child? Don't forget to make some memories.

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