Friday, May 24, 2013

Book Review and Giveaway: All the Summer Girls by Meg Donohue

Pages: 264
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: May 21, 2013
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "In Philadelphia, good girl Kate is dumped by her fiance the day she learns she is pregnant with his child. In New York City, beautiful stay-at-home mom Vanessa is obsessively searching the Internet for news of an old flame. And in San Francisco, Dani, the aspiring writer who can't seem to put down a book--or a cocktail--long enough to open her laptop, has just been fired...again. In an effort to regroup, Kate, Vanessa, and Dani retreat to the New Jersey beach town where they once spent their summers. Emboldened by the seductive cadences of the shore, the women being to realize how much their lives, and friendships, have been shaped by the choices they made one fateful night on the beach eight years earlier--and the secrets that only now threaten to surface."
Kate is always in control, she makes all the right choices and has always played by the rules. She's a lawyer living in Philadelphia and about to get married, until her fiance breaks up with her and cancels their wedding.  To make matter worse, she finds out she is pregnant on the day that he dumps her, which obviously turns her world upside down.  Her best friend, Vanessa, seems to have it all.  She has a dreamy, wealthy husband and a beautiful daughter.  She left her art gallery job in New York to raise her daughter and hasn't looked back until some recent unforeseen events that caused her to think "what if."  Their other childhood friend, Dani, is living in San Francisco trying to write the great American novel, but is struggling due to her alcohol and drug abuse.  Instead of going on Kate's wild bachelorette party to Las Vegas, the three friends decide to go back to Dani's dad's house in Avalon, New Jersey, the location of all their summers together.  While on this mini-vacation, the three girls come to grips with their own issues as well as the secrets surrounding that one night eight years ago which changed their lives forever. Meg Donohue's All the Summer Girls is a captivating novel about friendship, tough life choices, and that one special summer place that stays with us forever.

The point of view in All the Summer Girls alternates between the three girls, which I found to be extremely effective as readers get to learn more about each girl, their secrets as well as thoughts on each other.  Kate still has to deal with some issues surrounding the untimely death of her twin, Colin, which happened eight years ago in Avalon.  All three girls were very good friends with Colin and have a few secrets regarding that fateful night he died.  Vanessa in All the Summer Girls was equally interesting, especially since finding out something startling about her husband. Since finding out this information, she has started thinking about her old boyfriend from Avalon and even found him on Facebook. Lastly,   Dani is the adventurous wild child living out what everyone thinks is her dream in San Francisco, but in actuality, she is slowly unraveling.  She drinks too much, takes drugs, and can't hold down a job.  She has so much potential, but can't get it together.  All she wants to do is finish her novel, like everyone expects her to, but just-can't-do-it. 

For me, the setting of All the Summer Girls was the best part of the book.  Like the three girls, I have been going to Avalon since I was a child and I absolutely loved seeing it come to life through the story. Donohue does a magical job and at times I felt like she went into my head and pulled out memories from my own childhood or summers when I lived down the shore in my twenties.  She had all my favorite haunts down perfectly--from the mentions of Circle Pizza, Avalon Coffee, the Princeton, the Twenty-First Street Bridge, Wildwood's ferris wheel glittering in the distance and the busy Dune Drive....I felt like I was there.  

Donohue is such a fantastic writer. I loved every second of All the Summer Girls, because Donohue portrays MY Jersey Shore and not MTV's version.  It was as if Meg Donohue read my mind when she said, "Summer is Avalon, New Jersey: thick, humid air cut with the salt funk of low tide and flip-flops smacking against hardened soles and hair drifting around you like seaweed as the ocean lifts you up toward a cloudless sky and the feeling that you will never be anything but young."  I couldn't have said it better.  

All the Summer Girls is on my "special" bookshelf for all of my favorite reads and in the midst of a cold Pennsylvania winter, I plan on taking this book off my shelf and visiting Avalon once again. In the "About the Book" section of All the Summer Girls, Donohue explains, "...there is great comfort--warmth, even--to be found in memory, and that we are never far from our favorite places, or our childhood, when we hold them in our heart.  Summer, after all, when boiled down to the emotions it so often invokes-- happiness and hope-- it's a state of mind." Donohue just gets me and this, my friends, is why I love reading.

Now that you've read my love letter to All the Summer Girls, you too can fall in love with it and take it to the beach with you this summer.  I'm hosting a giveaway for one copy of All the Summer Girls, thanks to HarperCollins.  This giveaway is open to US readers only and the deadline is June 5th .  Please refer to my giveaway rules.  Good luck! 

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  1. Wow! It sounds like the author nailed the setting - it's always nice when a real setting is perfectly portrayed! I wasn't really aware of this book, but you make All the Summer Girls seem like an outstanding adult novel.

    Awesome review, and thanks for the giveaway!

  2. looks like a great summer read :-)

  3. It definitely is! Thanks for visiting, Gina!

  4. I loved her other book, How to Eat a Cupcake and this sounds wonderful too. Fantastic review!

    1. I am looking forward to reading How to Eat a Cupcake. I have it on my Nook. Thanks for dropping by, Christina!

  5. I just finished reading this one and I really enjoyed it too - it's the perfect summer read! I think it's extra cool that it took you back to the beach of your childhood summers! :)


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