“Summer Island” by Kristin Hannah

Nora Bridge had what appeared to be the American dream – a devoted husband, two loving daughters, and a quaint beach house on Summer Island. Yet one day she turned her back on them all and vanished into thin air.

A decade later her youngest daughter Ruby  finds herself grappling with the heartbreaking legacy of her mother’s selfishness. Stuck in the spin cycle of financial and emotional debt, Ruby is listless, angry and desperate to make a buck. After Nora, ironically a nationally beloved radio advice show host of “Family First,” becomes the center of a scandal, Ruby decides to write a tell-all roast about her absentee mother for a sleazy tabloid.

Just when life couldn’t get worse for poor Nora, she totals her car in an alcohol-induced haze, rendering herself  incapacitated  in a wheelchair. Alone and helpless, she’s left to rely on the one person who despises her the most: Ruby.

Guilted into taking care of her down-trodden mother at her childhood home in Summer Island, Ruby decides to maximize her quality time with mother dearest by writing her tell-all. But when her anger ebbs and forgiveness fights its way to the surface, she struggles with the moral dilemma of cashing in on her mother’s scandal or killing the story and letting her mother back in her heart.

Lessons of redemption and second chances are also infused in the two subplots: one a romance between Ruby and Dean, an old boyfriend who she kicked to the curb after her mother split, and another involving Dean’s dying brother who’s struggling to make peace with his broken family. Conveniently they’re all summering on the island and  rebuilding their relationships.

Brimming with sentiments of forgiveness and unconditional love, the book reads like a lengthy episode of a Lifetime movie under the influence of “Delilah after Dark.” Get out those boxes of Kleenex ladies, this one is a surefire tearjerker.

7 thoughts on ““Summer Island” by Kristin Hannah

  1. Kelly

    I’d be interested to know more about how this author handles the issue of guilt in this text and whether it has any sort of feminist connotations. It sounds like the novel creates the perfect female monster: the woman who abandons her children. And then there is the perfect payback: complete dependence on the child she abandoned. How scary and interesting!

    1. This story hit a little too close to home, so I had a tough time feeling sympathy for the mom. She ran out on her girls when she discovered her husband was having an affair and couldn’t live in a loveless marriage. She “redeemed” herself by giving back to lost souls by answering Dear Abby letters in her nationally syndicated talk show and news column. You should read it and tell me what you think.

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