All the Summer Girls
by Meg Donohue
Published by William Morrow
Genre: chick lit; women’s fiction
Thanks to edelweiss for the preview
3.5 / 5
Threesomes can be awkward.
There are risks involved. Someone may feel left out, two may gang up on one, the balance is off. When they work, they work gloriously. But when they don’t, well, that’s where we get interesting ideas for books.
Kate, Vanessa, and Dani have been friends since high school, and although the three have gone their separate ways, the chord between them still pulls tightly. Their closeness may not be what it once was, but they are the sort of friends who, even after months or years apart, can reunite and slip back into “normalcy.” Or what accounts for normalcy for the three of them.
They last were together at Vanessa’s wedding to the son of a famous newscaster. Vanessa and Dani got into a vicious argument, the particulars of which we do not learn about till later. The same goes for secrets the three women hold regarding a tragedy that befell them the last summer they spent together at the Jersey Shore: the death of Kate’s twin brother, Colin. Life for none of them has been the same since.
When Kate’s fiancé dumps her three months prior to their wedding, she calls upon Dani and Vanessa to join her at the Shore. Secrets will be revealed, relationships tested, and friendships elasticized to embrace the changes that the three have undergone since Colin’s death. Can they find their way back to each other, back to their closeness? Each needs the other desperately, as each woman faces upheavals in her life.
The story lines are interesting, if not a little predictable. Happily married Vanessa may not be so happy after all, Kate needs to feel attractive to men, and Dani needs to find herself. We’ve seen this before. But Donohue puts a fresh spin on the tales by unfolding her stories in a way that keeps us engaged and reading. The mystery of Colin’s death directs the book, and we becomes as invested in finding out what happened as the friends do. Each thinks she knows the full story, but none do.
When you have three “heroines,” the worry is that one will get short shrift. Again, the problem of threesomes. That is here to some degree. Kate is the most fully realized in that we see her not just through her own eyes but through Dani’s and Vanessa’s as well. She’s a neat freak with OCD tendencies, a bad driver, the daughter of two loving parents, a twin without a twin. When we see her through her friend’s perspectives, we feel we know her. We can’t say the same for Dani and Vanessa, who appear more cookie cutter than Kate, more predictable. What we learn about them from their friends is what we expect to learn. Unfortunately, there are no surprises.
There is a little romance here, but the real romance isn’t between the women and any men. It’s between the friends themselves. They care about each other, and although they betray one another in various ways, their love and loyalty binds them as strongly as any romance or marriage would.
It’s a good summer read. Enjoy.