Few authors dare to truly analyze the complex natures of mother-daughter relationships. In her novel Summer Island, author Kristin Hannah perfectly captures the bittersweet, inspiring, disappointing, tragic, and human aspects of such a relationship. Set in the tranquil, present-day San Juan Islands, Summer Island presents itself as a deep investigation of the ramifications of a mother's abandonment of her two daughters. Unlike many similar novels, this one delivers the goods.
When Nora Bridge left her husband and her two daughters 10 years ago, she took the only route she could see, and assumed she still had her daughters' love. Now, though she is distant from her own daughters, Nora is the hostess of a radio advice show, where she advises listeners that "family comes first." When a scandal breaks and Nora hits rock bottom, she finds she has to rely on the two people she has betrayed most deeply: her daughters, Ruby and Caroline.
As an aspiring and failing comedian, Ruby's life in Los Angeles has shrunk into a directionless morass. She says when she dismisses superstition, "As if she needed magic to tell her that she was stuck in the spin cycle of her life." Though neither she nor Caroline are inclined to help their mother, Ruby finally agrees when a magazine offers to pay her for a tell-all exposé.
With a masterful balance of cutting wit, realistic dialogue, and lyrical description, Summer Island is by far Hannah's greatest work. Mothers, daughters, and sisters are sure to mark the passages and lend this novel to each other. If this is the standard for future Hannah novels, her fan base is sure to grow.--Nancy R.E. O'Brien
From Publishers Weekly
Second-chance love of a different stripe--between mother and daughter--is the focus of Hannah's (Angel Falls) overheated family drama. More than 10 years ago, Nora Bridge walked out on her husband and two daughters. Now a wildly popular radio talk-show host and syndicated columnist, Nora offers inspirational advice that appeals to listeners' family values. What Nora's fans don't know is that her youngest daughter, Ruby, now 28, hasn't spoken to her mother in years. When a scandal breaks concerning Nora's unsavory past, Ruby, whose stand-up comedy career hasn't taken off the way she hoped it would, is hired to pen a tell-all article. Conveniently for Ruby, Nora is injured in a car accident and needs someone to accompany her to the family's former retreat on Washington's Summer Island. Once mother and daughter begin to get reacquainted, however, trading secrets, learning to see each other as people and healing the wounds of the past, Ruby isn't sure she wants to write the profile after all. Two subplots drive home the same lesson: one featuring Ruby and Dean, the young man Ruby pushed away while she was too busy hating her mother, and another involving Dean and his gay brother, Eric, now dying of cancer--conveniently, Dean and Eric are staying on a neighboring island, trying to get reacquainted. In all cases, Hannah's prescription for saving shaky relationships is the same: talk and forgiveness. The cozy sentimentality may appeal to fans of confessional talk shows--others will want to give Hannah's latest a miss. (Mar.)Forecast: Crown is backing Summer Island with a first printing of 125,000, advertising in major national publications and a teaser excerpt in Ballantine's mass market edition of Angel Falls, due out this month, but it's unlikely that this by-the-numbers offering will expand the author's reader base.
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