I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Summer That Made Us by Robyn Carr
Published by Mira on September 1, 2017
Genres: Contemporary Fiction
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Mothers and daughters, sisters and cousins--they lived for summers at the lake house until a tragic accident changed everything. The Summer That Made Us is an unforgettable story about a family learning to accept the past, to forgive and to love each other again. That was then... For the Hempsteads, two sisters who married two brothers and had three daughters each, summers were idyllic. The women would escape the city the moment school was out to gather at the family house on Lake Waseka. The lake was a magical place, a haven where they were happy and carefree. All of their problems drifted away as the days passed in sun-dappled contentment. Until the summer that changed everything. This is now... After an accidental drowning turned the lake house into a site of tragedy and grief, it was closed up. For good. Torn apart, none of the Hempstead women speak of what happened that summer, and relationships between them are uneasy at best to hurtful at worst. But in the face of new challenges, one woman is determined to draw her family together again, and the only way that can happen is to return to the lake and face the truth. Robyn Carr has crafted a beautifully woven story about the complexities of family dynamics and the value of strong female relationships.
Charlene (Charley) Hempstead is suddenly facing big changes in her life after her successful, long-running national talk show is canceled. Her younger sister, Megan (Meg) is fighting a tough battle with breast cancer and wants to return to their family’s lake house at Lake Waseba, Minnesota for the summer. She’s also inviting her cousins and their mothers, who haven’t spoken to each other in years. They all used to spend every summer at the lake until a tragic event fractured the family 27 years ago. Will they show up and if they do, can this highly dysfunctional family overcome their differences to restore the closeness they once shared?
This was a fascinating story with every level of conflict represented. Charley is at sea now that her self-defining career is stalled and the man she’s lived with for over 20 years suddenly proposes. And, she’s barely on speaking terms with her prickly mother. Her cousins, sisters Krista, Hope and Beverly, haven’t spoken to each other in years. Their mother, Jo, hasn’t had a real relationship with her sister and Charley’s mother, Lou, since that last trip to the lake. I won’t spoil the story by giving you more details but suffice it to say this was one strange brew. There are so many layers to the story, the characters and the events that happened at the last lake visit. There’s a LOT going on but Carr effectively weaves them together to create a compelling narrative using many voices.
I loved this story and wished we could see more of this family. But, deep down, I’m very satisfied to end where it did. This was one I had a tough time putting down and is contemporary fiction at its finest as family dynamics are explored in such a relevant way.
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