Thursday, June 2, 2022

The Summer Place

 

The Summer Place
by Jennifer Weiner

I always enjoy Jennifer Weiner's books and this one didn't disappoint. It's the kind of book that I do keep going back to because I'm just that nosy and need to know what's going to happen.  

Ms. Weiner introduces us to a family that is blended and has the usual issues.  I think Sarah is the main, most followed character of the story.  She has a twin brother, Sam, who is a single dad to his stepson. Sarah is married to Eli who is 10 years older than her and has a young daughter, Ruby, when they wed. Eli's ex is a woman who never wanted nor intended to be a mother. Eli has a "ne'er-do-well" brother. Sarah & Sam's parents are financially well off due to a couple of books Veronica, their mother, wrote prior to their birth. 

The main event is going to be the wedding of Sarah's step daughter to her college boyfriend. It will take place at Sarah's parents' summer home. 

I won't give away all the issues, but everyone has them and some may be unexpected.  I will say that secrets abound in and about this extended family.  As the secrets are revealed to the reader, I completely expected the story to end with a huge blowout at the wedding.  But... I'm not going to say more than that, either it does or it doesn't...

I really enjoyed the way the story was told, each character having a chapter devoted to his or her background and current life and JW braiding them all together revealing "just enough." To be honest, I though I had figured out the main issue early on, however, it wasn't held secret and so wasn't the "A-ha! I got the spoiler!" that I thought I had. 

I did find that the characters were a bit more understanding in one particular instance than I could have imagined them to be. I wonder if I am alone in that thought. I may explain more in the spoilers. 

My rating of The Summer Place is 4 shots of 5. It was a fun book, easy to read and get through - perfect for the summer months! 


SPOILER ALERT!
This is where I recount the story for my own poor memory. Proceed at your own risk! 

Lets begin with all the secrets!  
Eli, Sarah's husband, formerly married to Annette.  When he was with Annette they were footloose and fancy free, traveling the world and working wherever they touched down. Annette wanted to live her life that way and had no interest in marriage.  Then she got pregnant with Ruby. She eventually left both Eli & Ruby, becoming an absent parent rather than a neglectful one.  Eli's secret is that he cheated on Annette and may have another child - who he believes is the boy Ruby is engaged to. 

Sarah, Eli's wife, still has a lingering love for her summer-before-college romance who promised to keep in touch but ended up ghosting her.  During a troubling time in her marriage and right before the wedding she indulges herself with the former love who just happened to pop back into her life. 

Sam, Sarah's brother, is famously shut down at the six month mark of every relationship he's had. When at last he find a woman who loves him beyond the six months and they marry, she is killed in an auto accident and he is left with her son who's father has no interest in raising him. Sam is happy to be Connor's father.  But, unrelated, he is soon questioning his own sexuality. 

Veronica, Sarah & Sam's mother has a sister who thinks it's a great idea to send the adult twins 23 & Me DNA test kits. As a result of this it's revealed to the reader that Veronica had a years long affair with an editor in NYC at the time she was also preparing to marry the man who becomes the twins' father.  She has never known for sure which man fathered the children. 

Ruby realizes right before the wedding that she had expected or at least hoped that someone would call her out on not being ready for marriage.  She flees with her bio mother the night before her wedding. 

Gabe, Ruby's fianc√©, hooks up with Sam at a gay bar that night. They haven't met prior to this point and don't realize who they are in relationship to each other.  This is the part that I have a problem with after all is said and done. They start a long relationship and no one is bothered by the fact that Gabe & Ruby were almost married.  I just don't think many families would be that accepting.  I could be wrong... 

I'm sure there is more I haven't covered but this should be enough to help me recall the book should I need to.  

And as an aside, yes, they live happily ever after. 


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