Last Summer (Paperback)

By Holly Chamberlin

Kensington Publishing Corporation, 9780758235084, 324pp.

Publication Date: June 1, 2012

List Price: 15.00*
* Individual store prices may vary.

Description

Holly Chamberlin, bestselling author of The Family Beach House and Summer Friends, weaves a powerful and heartfelt story of the bond between mothers and daughters, and the resilience of true friendship. . .
The town of Yorktide, close to Maine's beautiful beaches and the city of Portland, seems like the perfect place to raise a family. For Jane Patterson, there's another advantage: her best friend, Frannie Giroux, lives next door, and their teenaged daughters, Rosie and Meg, are inseparable. But in the girls' freshman year of high school, everything changes.
Jane always felt lucky that she was able to work from home, to be there to nurture and protect Rosie. But has she been too protective? Rosie--quiet, shy, and also very pretty--attracts the sneers and slights of a clique of older girls. Over time, the bullying worsens. When Meg betrays their friendship, fearful that she too will be targeted, Rosie suffers an emotional breakdown.
Blaming both Meg and Frannie, Jane tries to help Rosie heal while dealing with her own guilt and anger. In the months that follow, each struggles with the ideas of forgiveness and compassion, of knowing when a friendship has been shattered beyond repair--and when hope can be salvaged, one small moment at a time. . .
Praise for the novels of Holly Chamberlin
"Nostalgia over real-life friendships lost and regained pulls readers
into the story." -USA Today on Summer Friends
"An honest, forceful novel about love, family, and sacrifice." --Booklist on One Week in December
"It does the trick as a beach book and provides a touristy taste of Maine's seasonal attractions." --Publishers Weekly on The Family Beach House


About the Author

Holly Chamberlin was born and raised in New York City. After earning a Masters degree in English Literature from New York University and working as an editor in the publishing industry for ten years, she moved to Boston, married and became a freelance editor and writer. She and her husband now live in downtown Portland, Maine, in a restored mid-nineteenth century brick townhouse with Betty, the most athletic, beautiful and intelligent cat in the world. Readers can visit her website at: www.hollychamberlin.com.


Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com

  1. Talk about how Meg’s perception of Rosie changesover the course of the story. For example, at one pointMeg tells us she has always felt protective of Rosie.How does she come to realize that her friend has hiddenreserves of strength?
  2. Talk about how Rosie’s perception of Meg changesover the course of the story. For example, at one pointRosie tells us she has always seen Meg as the strongone. How does she come to realize that Meg is vulnerable,too?
  3. Though she loves her mother, Meg is determined notto follow in her footsteps and wind up with a deadbeatex-husband and struggling to make ends meet.Do you think Meg will succeed in her determinationto go to college and build a successful career? Do youthink she will be a happy woman?
  4. At the end of the story, Rosie looks forward to a productivefuture, perhaps as a writer or working in theelder care industry. Where do you see her in ten years’time? Twenty? Looking back on her childhood andadolescence, how do you think the adult Rosie will assessher parents’ marriage and the family’s dynamic?
  5. Do you think Meg and Rosie’s friendship will surviveinto adulthood?
  6. Was Frannie wrong not to hide the extent of her ex-husband'spoor character from her daughter? Or isbrutal honesty best in such a situation? Do you thinkFrannie will be as open about Peter’s character withher son when he reaches Meg’s age? If not, why?
  7. Jane loves her husband and feels very dependent uponhim as the stronger and more courageous person inthe relationship. And if not a particularly effusiveman, Mike seems to be an attentive husband. Givenwhat relatively little we know of it, what is your opinionof the Pattersons’ marriage? If you could predictthe future for Jane and Mike, what would it be?
  8. Both Jane and Frannie talk about the frustrations ofbeing a parent—damned if you care too much anddamned if you don’t care enough. With this in mind,talk about each woman’s parenting choices. For example,Frannie’s mother told her that privacy is earnedand only for adults, and yet Frannie has difficultyagreeing with that assessment and chooses not to investigateMeg’s use of the Internet. Interestingly, Jane,who is a helicopter parent in many ways, never oncethinks to read her daughter’s diary. How do you explaineach woman’s choices? Do you think Jane andFrannie really trust their daughters and respect theirprivacy, or do you think each woman is simply afraidof what she might find if she engages in active monitoring?
  9. In what circumstances would you read your child’sprivate diary or journal? In what circumstances wouldyou track her use of the Internet and social media services?The idea of privacy has changed enormously inthe past few years. Is reading someone’s private, handwrittenpapers different from tracking her e-mails orher online profiles? If so, in what ways? And is onemore or less acceptable than the other? When, if ever,is it okay for a teacher or caregiver other than a parentto infringe upon a child’s privacy?
  10. Consider the four main characters—Jane, Rosie,Frannie, and Meg. Jane blames herself for being overprotectiveof her daughter and for an emotional cowardicethat put her daughter’s physical and mentalhealth in jeopardy. Rosie, for a time, blames herself forthe unhappiness of everyone around her, as well as forbeing the cause of her own bullying. Frannie blamesherself for being too busy to be a better parent, and forbeing ungrateful for the good things in her life. AndMeg blames herself for being a lousy friend and a disappointingdaughter. In each case, when is self-blameor guilt healthy, and when does it become an indulgenceand a liability?
  11. The theme of forgiveness looms large in this story.Talk about each character’s journey toward real forgiveness,of herself and of others. For example, whatdo you think really stands in the way of Jane reconcilingwith Frannie? Meg wonders if her father will everask her forgiveness for being a bad parent and alsowonders if she’ll be able to forgive him whether heasks for forgiveness or not. What do you think will becomeof that damaged relationship? Rosie’s therapisttells her that she’ll have to first forgive herself beforeshe can truly forgive others. Do you think that by thestory’s end Rosie has come to understand this concept?The ability to forgive seems to come fairly easilyfor Frannie, at least when it’s toward her daughter andbest friend. She says that she doesn’t hate Peter anylonger, but do you think she has really forgiven her ex- husband for being neglectful of his family?
  12. Some people argue that no one deserves forgiveness,rather that it’s a gift freely given by the one who hasbeen wronged. Do you think that a person must acceptthe gift of forgiveness offered her and admit tofeeling remorse in order for the “transaction” to becompleted? Or is there really such a thing as “unilateralforgiveness”? Talk about these ideas, considering,for example, Meg’s and then Stella’s apology to Rosie.
  13. Meg recalls Father William suggesting that forgivenessis an act of courage that involves the capacity forimagination. Talk about this idea.
  14. Talk about your own experiences with bullying, or“relational aggression,” as a child and as an adult. Doyou think bullying is on the rise, or has our awarenessof it simply increased? Cyber-bullying is a relativelynew form of harassment, one that can be particularlyinvasive and destructive. Discuss how it differs fromface-to-face bullying.
  15. Traditionally, boys and girls have engaged in differenttypes of harassment. In general, boys who bully feelthe need to be powerful and in control; they take pleasurein the suffering of others. Some of their mostcommon weapons are physical assault, threats, theft,and blackmail. In general, girls who bully seek socialdominance by excluding others from the network offriends. Some of their most common weapons arespreading damaging rumors, withdrawal of friendship,name calling, and the silent treatment. Talkabout these differences. In what ways are male and femalebullies similar?