The Summertime Girls: A Novel. Laura Hankin. Berkeley/Penguin Group (USA). August 2015. 304 pp. ISBN#: 9780425279632.
Ally Morris and Beth Abbott have been best friends since they were children. They pictured each other as sisters from the well-known and beloved novel, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. But sometimes expectations about how these novelistic characters will fulfill their destinies can’t account for what is missed about these stereotypes. And sometimes via the circumstances that suddenly arise call for each young woman to dig deep and allow what may emerge.
When we meet Ally and Beth, they have not seen each other in several years as Beth has been working in Haiti. Ally is hurt that their regular communication just seemed to decrease and then disappear. In their several meetings, in between reminiscing about their past and filling in that time between then and now, some harsh comments are dropped but just as quickly apologized for.
Ally wants to be a great singer, songwriter and musician but feels like she’s lacking the “sparkling” touch that would wow producers and people who deal with individual and group musicians on a daily basis. Her lack of confidence has history we learn as we keep reading and hope as we continue to an unexpected meeting.
Secrets will be revealed about both young women. Readers will be tempted to think that Beth’s painful memories about Haiti are worse than anything Ally or any American could experience. But we come to realize it was pain that drove Beth there, within a story that you will never forget once you read about it.
The nice thing about this novel is that a fine balance exists between light-hearted and very funny moments and the intense, heavy scenes that are inserted in just the right places and always at the right time. Characters don’t have to travel far to be a healing presence for friends and acquaintances and more than that, their own selves.
The past and present are magically interwoven in this unique novel about truly growing and loving life no matter where it leads! Delight read which this reviewer recommends highly.