Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Review: All The Summer Girls by Meg Donohue

In All The Summer Girls, Meg Donohue tells a story of three childhood girlfriends who return to the summer house at which they created enduring memories but also suffered a great loss. Now adults, each at a crossroads in their lives, they return to Avalon, NJ for a girls weekend in an effort to repair their friendship but also to heal themselves in order to move past their individual crises.

As students in Philadelphia Friends School, Kate, Dani and Vanessa were best friends. The three girls were very different from each other  - straight-laced Kate thrives on lists and order, Dani is a free-spirit with disregard for rules and convention and Vanessa is confident and rapidly growing into her striking good looks. Despite their differences, a close friendship is formed among the girls and they spend each summer at the shore in Avalon, NJ. Kate's twin brother, Colin, is also part of their group is much loved by each of the girls. When Colin drowns in the ocean the summer before their senior year in college, it devastates each of the girls, taints the Avalon shore for them and silently drives wedges between their friendship.

As adults, the women are still quite different from each other and more mature versions of their adolescent selves. Kate is a successful attorney in a Philadelphia law firm and still thrives on order in her personal and professional life. Dani has been wandering since college - she lives in San Francisco attempting to write her first novel while she runs through a string of jobs. Vanessa is now married and living in NYC and recently chose to quit her job and stay home with her young daughter, Lucy. Each woman is facing a crisis in their personal lives as they decide to reunite at the shore for a girls weekend. They are tentative with each other and Colin's death still remains as an unhealed wound for each woman.

My Thoughts
Meg Donohue has struck an interesting balance with this book - part beach read, part serious exploration of women's friendships. For about 10 years, I took part in a summer share on the Jersey Shore so when I saw the cover and read the synopsis, I expected (and looked forward to) a lighthearted romp of boozy weekends in the summer sun. This book was less about weekends at the shore and more about the role the shore played in cementing these women's friendships and whether it can bring them back together and heal them as adults. I was pleasantly surprised and enjoyed getting to know the women and the peeks offered of the shore. A perfect read  in the waning days of summer.


  1. This does sound like way more than a beach book, but still very summery, if you know what I mean. I am not a big fan of books about children who die, but if it's not the focus of the story, this could be a very interesting read.

  2. This has all the ingredients I need for a perfect summer read!

  3. I'm glad to see you enjoyed this one. I've got the audiobook waiting for me.

  4. I used to live near the Jersey shore. This book is sitting on my shelf ready for me to read. Thanks for your insights. Can't wait to read.