Summer Secrets by Jane Green
Jane Green delivers her second blockbuster novel of 2015, a story of one woman struggling to right the wrongs of her past, with even more complications in the present.
June, 1998: At twenty seven, Catherine Coombs, also known as Cat, is struggling. She lives in London, works as a journalist, and parties hard. Her lunchtimes consist of several glasses of wine at the bar downstairs in the office, her evenings much the same, swigging the free booze and eating the free food at a different launch or party every night. When she discovers the identity of the father she never knew she had, it sends her into a spiral. She makes mistakes that cost her the budding friendship of the only women who have ever welcomed her. And nothing is ever the same after that.
June, 2014: Cat has finally come to the end of herself. She no longer drinks. She wants to make amends to those she has hurt. Her quest takes her to Nantucket, to the gorgeous summer community where the women she once called family still live. Despite her sins, will they welcome her again? What Cat doesn’t realize is that these women, her real father’s daughters, have secrets of their own. As the past collides with the present, Cat must confront the darkest things in her own life and uncover the depths of someone’s need for revenge.
Summer Secrets was an okay read, but it wasn't my favorite. I really wanted to love it since I don't come across that many books with alcoholic main characters, but while this was interesting to read it wasn't as good as I had hoped. Still enjoyed it, just didn't absolutely love it.
Cat is an alcoholic. The story opens when she is still not able to admit that to herself. She drinks a lot, wakes up the next morning not knowing where she is and feeling terrible. She almost seems ready to try and change, to stop her drinking, but she is not quite there yet. She is not in her early twenties anymore. Friends and family keep telling her it is time to grow up and grow out of that behavior.
When Cat meets Jason, a recovering alcoholic, she thinks that he could be it. He could be the one that makes her happy, that completes her. She starts going to AA even though her heart is not in it to try and win him over. Sure she still drinks occasionally, but she has this under control. She doesn't need the twelve steps and all that nonsense. When she finds out that her father is not really her father she flies off to meet this new family she never knew she had. Everyone in Nantucket seems to have a drinking problem as well so why not participate too? I mean it would be rude not to drink with them. Jason was worried about her sobriety and encouraged her to seek out a group in Nantucket, but once she gets there it is just like why bother? And she ends up ruining some relationships because of what happens one night when she gets wasted.
The story then skips ahead years to after she has ruined her marriage because of her alcoholism. She is now sober, the divorce being the kick in the pants she needed to actually do this for real this time. No more half attempts, no more trying and failing, she is doing this. She has to for her daughter and she thinks maybe if she changes enough she can get her husband back again.
Through her recovery she has to complete all of the twelve steps including making amends which takes her back to Nantucket. She has to try and make amends for her past behaviour with the family she only started to get to know all those years ago. It is not easy and she has been dreading it for a while, but it is something she must do.
There were a few surprises in the story, a few things that didn't go as I expected, and it was an alright read. I didn't really like Cat's bff Sam as he doesn't really seem to understand alcoholism. Cat said how he would try and get her to have just one drink, what could it hurt, and things like that. I don't like that. That is so wrong and it is just like how can you not understand that she cannot have just one? How can you be her friend, supposedly care about her, yet every once and a while try and get her to drink? I didn't like him.
The other issue I had with the story? I didn't believe it. I didn't really believe that Cat was an alcoholic and that she struggled with it. I am not sure why. It told me she did, but something about it didn't ring true for me. Maybe I needed more showing of her out of control instead of just telling me last night she drank a lot, she has problems, she ruined her marriage. I don't know. Because I didn't actually see her being out of control with the drinking all the time I wasn't as engaged. It was an okay read, but I just didn't connect with the characters as much as I would have liked. That and I didn't care for the ending. I just...it left me feeling like oh...okay. So I enjoyed the story to a degree I just didn't love it completely.
Rating: ★ ★ ★