The Last Summer of Her Other Life (Paperback)
William Morrow Paperbacks, 9780061452499, 320pp.
Publication Date: June 30, 2009
From Jean Reynolds Page—the critically acclaimed author of The Space Between Before and After and one of the most compelling voices in contemporary women's fiction—comes a dazzling novel of loss and redemption, of relationships that damage and those that heal.
Thirty-nine and pregnant by a man she's decided to leave behind in California, Jules' life is changing. Always the protected daughter, she must now relinquish that role and prepare to be a mother herself. But her efforts are upstaged by shocking allegations from a local teen in her North Carolina hometown. The boy has accused her of what the police are calling “inappropriate sexual contact.” Three men rally in her defense: Lincoln, her brother, who flies in from New York to help her; Sam, her high school boyfriend, who after so many years still offers unconditional support; and Walt, the uncle of the teen, who charms Jules with his intelligence and unanticipated kindness.
Her search for the truth about the troubled teenager becomes, for Jules, a first step toward discovering the woman she wishes to be. But with so many wrong choices behind her, how can she trust herself with the future of her unborn child?
About the Author
Jean Reynolds Page lives with her husband and three children in Wisconsin.
Praise For The Last Summer of Her Other Life…
— Publishers Weekly
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
- When Jules finds out she is pregnant with Thomas' child, she decides that, because he has repeatedly chosen to go off his medication for bipolar disorder (and as a result of this has exhibited dangerous behavior), she will not tell him about the baby. How do you feel about this decision? Do you think she made the right choice in order to protect her child or should he be told that he is a father in spite of the potential risks?
- Lincoln and Jules had different experiences with their father, Jack Fuller. How did Jack's abuse affect who the two siblings became in their adult lives? How is Vick's experience similar to Lincoln's? How is it different? Why was the boy vulnerable to the particular type of abuse that he endured?
- Walt tells Jules that she reminds him of a rodeo clown, something seemingly frivolous and fun, but with a fiercely serious purpose behind the charade. Jules believed that by maintaining the outward trappings of someone wild and unpredictable, she was shielding Lincoln by offering herself as a distraction. She wanted to protect her brother, first, from the anger of their father, and later, from the disapproval of the community. Do you think there were any additional, perhaps more self-serving, purposes for Jules' disguise? If so, what were they?
- Jules is initially very upset with Sam for keeping the truth from her about the day their fathers died. Do you think she was justified in being angry with Sam, but not with Lincoln? Is it always better to know the truth about painful situations, or are there sometimes good reasons to stay quiet in order to protect someone?
- What should happen to Tuni? Is she a victim of some sort of mental illness? Should this be taken into consideration, or are her actions beyond any such qualification?