Tuesday, June 11, 2013

All the Summer Girls by Meg Donohue

Author: Meg Donohue
Publisher: William Morrow
Date of publication: May 2013

In Philadelphia, good girl Kate is dumped by her fiance the day she learns she is pregnant with his child. In New York City, beautiful stay-at-home mom Vanessa is obsessively searching the Internet for news of an old flame. And in San Francisco, Dani, the aspiring writer who can't seem to put down a book--or a cocktail--long enough to open her laptop, has just been fired...again.

In an effort to regroup, Kate, Vanessa, and Dani retreat to the New Jersey beach town where they once spent their summers. Emboldened by the seductive cadences of the shore, the women being to realize how much their lives, and friendships, have been shaped by the choices they made one fateful night on the beach eight years earlier--and the secrets that only now threaten to surface.

All the Summer Girls is  a pretty quick read just in time for summer.  At it's heart, it's about 3 women who each hold a secret about the summer Kate's brother, Colin, died.  Those events 8 years earlier have shaped their lives.  They all believe that their secret contributed to his death in some way. 

For me, the book was overall OK.  Out of the three characters, the only one I really felt badly for was Kate.  Her life is so ordered that she leaves now room for fun or spontaneity.  Being dumped and finding out she was pregnant all on the same day probably was the best thing that could ever happen to her. It spun her life out of control and forced her to face her past and the guilt she had been feeling all of these years. 

I didn't like Vanessa very much.  Yes, her husband kissed another woman, but did that give her the right to seek out her ex-boyfriend?  That makes her just as bad in my eyes. I also thought she was whiny.  She is a stay at home mom with a beautiful daughter, a great place to live and money to do what she wants, yet she isn't happy.  Stop complaining and do something about it.  What does she have to be unhappy about? I had no sympathy for her.  

And lastly, Dani.  She is clearly an addict and has been for years.  She keeps making excuses for her behavior.   She plays the victim and keeps blaming her circumstances in life on the night Colin died.  I wanted to scream at her to get over it. She is 29 years old and it's time to be a grown up and own up to her behavior. The only way I saw her making it was rehab and some serious counseling.

To be honest, I didn't really think that any of their secrets about that night was all that big. Certainly, not enough to ruin their lives or friendships. Colin was a drug addict and was clearly headed toward a path of destruction. Not one of their decisions, however poor, would have changed this. At the end of the book, I thought that Kate was the only one I thought had changed the most.  Her future looked bright and I knew she would be OK not matter what happened.  I didn't get that sense with either Vanessa or Dani.

About the author:
Meg Donohue is the author of the bestselling novel How to Eat a Cupcake, which was translated into Dutch, German, Italian, and Polish, and the forthcoming All the Summer Girls. She has an MFA from Columbia University and a BA from Dartmouth College. Born and raised in Philadelphia, she now lives San Francisco with her husband, two young daughters, and dog. Visit her at 

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Meg @ write meg! said...

I enjoyed this one more than you did, I think, but definitely agree with many of your points! I also found Vanessa whiny and hard to sympathize with, though Kate was easy to love. I actually liked Dani! She was definitely an addict, but I saw such glimmers of purpose and hope in her. Definitely a good read for this time of year!

trish said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts as part of the tour!