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Transformation Summer

Published by  Atmosphere Press

It’s a memory that’s stayed with Seth for years, since the summer he was 16 and his world was falling His parents are splitting up -- for no apparent reason -- leaving him confused and bitter. Even worse, his mother insists on dragging him along with her to Toward Transformation, a unique personal-growth camp – a trip he is certain will be disastrous.

But Seth finds unexpected camaraderie with other kids brash, self-appointed leader Rafe; gorgeous, daunting Diana; quirky, endearing yet unsettling Morgana; and enigmatic Grace, with whom he forges a strong, emotional connection. He's also heartened, intrigued and sometimes disturbed by what he encounters at Transformation, which after 10 years is showing signs of dissension among its participants. Well into his adulthood, Seth continues to process what happened during those two weeks at Transformation, and long afterwards.

Sean Smith's Transformation Summer is not just a coming-of-age novel, but an exploration of how we experience memories of youth -- from the perspective of accumulated years and wisdom, or as if we were still that same young person trying to make sense of the world. This poignant and thought-provoking book invites readers to consider the enduring influence of our past experiences on our lives.


Literary Titan presents its Gold Award to books judged as "perfect in their delivery of original content, meticulous development of unique characters in an organic and striking setting, innovative plot that supports a fresh theme, and elegant prose that transforms words into beautifully written books."

Reviews and Other Press

"Transformation Summer is a beautifully crafted narrative that captures the essence of coming of age with sensitivity and insight. It’s a commendable read for anyone drawn to adolescent growth and transformation exploration."

Literary Titan

"One theme [of the book] concerns the hold that a memory can exert on us, even years after the fact. And implicit in this is the question, can a memory become an end in itself, ultimately more important than the actual people, places, or events it evokes? Can a memory keep us from moving on, moving forward, even as it enriches us?"

–Q&A with Literary Titan

"I don’t know if this is true for all novelists, but I have a hunch it is: Even after it’s published, in your mind – and maybe your heart – you never really finish the book."

–Q&A with BostonIrish

"Sean Smith has written for a living for the better part of four decades, but his work has seldom involved the kind of touching, and sometimes agonizing, interpersonal insights found in his recently published first work of fiction, the award-winning novel Transformation Summer."

Boston College News

"Smith’s impression is that in the 1970s Americans seemed to be more introspective about themselves and their lives than in previous generations. There were more avenues for transformation than those offered in communes or alternative lifestyles, he observed. 'It wasn’t just a ‘hippies going back to the land’ situation; people in middle-class suburbs were looking at seminars, retreats, various programs and experiences that could help them sort out what they wanted and how they could achieve it. There was a rearranging of the furniture.'”

Fig City News

"I don’t want to give the impression that I wrote Transformation Summer with the intention of it being a self-help kind of book advocating a particular life philosophy or personal-growth experience. I think people can read the book simply for what it is: a story, a fictional memoir."

–Q&A with The Sociology Group

"The experiences of youth shape our lives and influence––for better or worse––how we interact with the world around us as we move through adulthood. Our adolescent memories are often confusing and even haunting until we have discovered their true meaning. Seth’s journey to understanding the full import of his transformative summer will provide him (and perhaps the reader as well) with an enhanced appreciation for life’s expectations. The protagonist's probing of his past will put him in a better position to navigate the twists and turns of the road ahead. Knowledge lights the path. A compelling narrative from an insightful writer."

Michael Keith, American media historian; fiction and non-fiction writer; author of The Next Better Place, Insomnia 11 and Quiet Geography; Pushcart Prize nominee

"Sean Smith's first novel is a Bildungsroman with a difference: His deep psychological insights into the mind of a wily adolescent in revolt and first passion is marvelously offset by witty observations about human existence in its heights and depths. A book of great wisdom and compassion."

Richard Kearney, distinguished philosopher, academic and writer; author of Salvage and Strangers, Gods and Monsters: Interpreting Otherness

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