We all need a good beach read, and that describes All The Summer Girls by Meg Donohue perfectly. Kate, Vanessa, and Dani were best friends growing up and attending the Philadelphia Friends School. After college, they remained friends but drifted apart as their lives diverged, especially after Kate’s twin brother, Colin, died.
Vanessa is now a stay at home mom of a two year old, happily married, according to the image she projects to the outside world. She feels betrayed however from her husband Drew’s confession that he’d kissed a co-worker at a holiday party, though it had gone no further than that and he regretted it. Vanessa begins reminiscing about the boy she was dating when Colin died, Jeremy Caldwell. She broke up with him because of the guilt she felt over Colin’s death, and she contacts him via Facebook.
Dani is in a far worse place. She’s just been fired from her job at a bookstore – her twelfth firing in seven years – and has about worn out of places to go to find a new job. She’s ready to head back to Philadelphia with her tail between her legs, knowing her dad will bail her out and let her live with him. She’s still living the college life of constant drinking, regular drugs, and nonstop parties, but it’s starting to catch up with her in her late twenties.
Kate is bringing them all together in person again. She’s getting married, and there is a bachelorette party scheduled for Vegas. Except that her fiance dumps her with no warning because Peter feels that Kate is unhappy and still hung up on the death of her twin that she doesn’t talk about. As he walks out of the apartment, Kate heads in to the bathroom to check on her pregnancy test that is, of course, positive.
With the weekend in Vegas called off, Dani suggests meeting instead of the weekend at her father’s summer house, just three of them. As they arrive, each with their secrets and parts of their lives that they haven’t shared with one another because they feel that they’ll be judged and found wanting, they discover Dani’s father there with his new fiancee Suz, a woman he’d never even mentioned to Dani, throwing her for even more of a loop.
Throughout the weekend, the women come together in friendship, uncovering their secrets and sharing their lives more fully than they have in a long time – from sharing Kate’s pregnancy to Vanessa’s flirtation with Jeremy who is also on the island to Dani’s soon to be step-mother to Dani’s drug and job issues and more. They also each unburden themselves about their unresolved issues over Colin’s death, each feeling as though she played a role. While I don’t identify equally with all characters, the book is well written and draws you in, much as you may disagree with individual characters’ choices, and you are emotionally connected with them all, rooting for them to find a way through their pain and to connect once again with all the summer girls who once were inseparable.
Written by Michelle who only wishes she had a summer home on the water to escape to. She’ll need an escape once summer in Chicago arrives. You can see how she handles it via her blog Honest & Truly! and by following along with her on Twitter where she is also @HonestAndTruly.