Saturday, October 19, 2013

All the Summer Girls by Meg Donohue

Three childhood friends, struggling with the realities of their three very different adulthoods and secrets of a shared past, decide to get together for a weekend in Avalon, New Jersey: Kate, an intense Philadelphia lawyer, finds out she's pregnant just after her fiancĂ© breaks their engagement. Vanessa, a newly minted stay-at-home mom with a seemingly idyllic NYC life, struggles to deal with her husband's recent infidelity and a strong desire to get in touch with an old flame. Dani, a nomadic aspiring writer with a weakness for partying, loses her job and apartment in San Francisco and faces the reality of moving back home and starting over.

The group comes together in Avalon, the place of so many childhood and adolescent memories, all afraid of the same one: the summer that Kate's twin brother, Colin, drowned in the bay. Each unknowingly keeps secrets about his death from the others, afraid of how their friendships will change, unaware how the truths about that night have shaped their lives (and their relationships to one another) ever since.

This is a fun read – perfect for the beach (or if you just wish you were there). I may be slightly biased because of my undying affection for the Jersey Shore (not the TV show!), but I found myself drawn to the idea of the ocean as both a balm and a catalyst to the simmering tensions underlying these women’s’ lifelong friendships. I related to the main characters' struggle to define themselves as they turn 30, and I appreciated that the ending did not tie up all loose ends - it was more a book about characters coming to terms with themselves rather than resolving their issues completely during a holiday weekend at the beach. All in all, a good read to get you thinking of humid summer days with the sound of the waves and the wind in the background.

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