Sunday, August 30, 2020

One Perfect Summer

Title:  One Perfect Summer
Author:  Brenda Novak
Publication Information:  MIRA. 2020. 432 pages.
ISBN:  0778310035 / 978-0778310037

Book Source:  I received this book through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "Gripping the steering wheel tightly, Serenity Alston navigated the winding freeway heading east toward Donner Summit."

Favorite Quote:  "But I have plenty of experience with trying to meet everyone's expectations so they won't reject me. It's easy to become a slave to that - to lose yourself in it." 

The premise of this book is based in the current trend toward commercial DNA testing for medical reasons or just as an experiment in learning more about your heritage. Serenity Alston sends off her swab to 23andMe and, much to her shock, discovers that her DNA matches that of two women - Lorelie and Regan. They are not her siblings. She does not know them or even know of them. Together, the three half-sisters decide to meet to see if they can possibly discover the connection between them.

The lives of the three have followed very different paths. Serenity grew up in an affluent, loving family surrounded by her parents, siblings, and other family members. Lorelei was found abandoned in Florida and grew up in the social welfare system; she is now married and a mother herself. Reagan was raised by a single mother with high expectations.

When they meet, they are all at a turning point in their individual lives beyond just the discovery of sister. These crossroads are about the relationships in their lives but also about them as individuals. "Not every change comes about peaceably, even changes that are for the best."

Some of this book is contrived. The three women gather in beautiful Lake Tahoe at Serenity's family cabin. There is an initial moment of discomfort, but sisterhood somehow comes instantly and easily. The comfort, the openness, and the love between sisters comes so very quickly. The ending picks up on recent news headlines somewhat out of left field and then does not really take that anywhere. It is somewhat of a jarring note in an otherwise totally family based book. To me, the resolution of the their connection is not needed because the story is more about where these women are headed rather than where they come from.

The book has other story lines that are introduced but not really followed. What happens to the neighbors and the recovery of one in particularly? What happens to Lorelei's husband? How does Serenity's family - her siblings in particular - react to the results of the DNA test? Not following these threads means the story stays focused on the three women, but then what is the need for them to be included? Just background or filler?

The book, of course, has romance including some graphic scenes. For the most part though, the romance is the summer read background of the book. The romances are not brought to a conclusion, which I appreciate because this is a story of these women not the romances. Rather than a loose end, in this instance, it keeps the focus on the story where I would rather see it -  on the women and the bond between sisters.

What I do appreciate about the book is the independence and strength of the women as they navigate the challenges of their lives. What I also appreciate is the sisterhood, even though it is too easily achieved. That kind of a support system, if any individual is able to find it, deserves celebration no matter how it is achieved. Over all, One Perfect Summer ends up one easy to get through summer read.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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