Nom de Plume Rating: ★★★★★
Reading Time: 5 minutes
*FTC Disclaimer: I received a paperback of Home for the Summer from Kensington Books in exchange for an honest review. I have in no way been influenced by the author and/or publisher’s generosity. You can’t fake these stars, baby!
In bestselling author Holly Chamberlin’s poignant new novel, a mother and daughter escape to a beautiful coastal town in Maine to find healing in the wake of heartbreaking loss.
The journey to Yorktide, Maine, was always a happy one for Frieda and Aaron Braithwaite and their two daughters. Frieda loves her mother’s old farmhouse, and the girls have grown closer there, sharing a bedroom and spinning stories into the night. But that was before—when tragedy was something that happened to other families.
Since the car crash that claimed the lives of her husband, and their younger daughter, Frieda has struggled emotionally and financially. Bella, now seventeen, is withdrawn and wary, and Frieda fears losing her too.
At her mother’s urging, Frieda decides to return to Yorktide with Bella for the summer. Bella gets a job in a local shop, and little by little edges her way back into the world. But it’s the unexpected connections they make—with a former schoolmate, a troubled teenage girl, and Frieda’s estranged father—that will spur them to find healing amid bittersweet memories, and discover if their bond is strong enough to guide them back to hope once more.
First Line: “I can’t believe we have to go home already. It’s so unfair…”
Home for the Summer is E-M-O-T-I-O-N-A-L! Heartache, loss, regret, Holly Chamberlin gives us a trip to Level-5-hurricane-projecting-off-my-FACE-land in this stunning portrait of finding home.
If there’s anything I learned from this book, it’s this: Do not go to Jamaica. I repeat: DO NOT GO TO JAMAICA.
Jamaica is actually quite fabulous… but not for Bella and her mother Frieda.
It’s Bella’s 16th birthday and her family (mom, dad, and little sister) are in Jamaica. Bring out the rum and Redbull – yes, that’s a thing in the Caribbean – and let’s Macarena! *snort* Yah, the Macarena-of-Doom because Bella’s father and sister are tragically killed in a car accident.
Queue the tears. Gaaawd this book! How is Bella going to recover from this? (She doesn’t.) Her mother, Frieda, isn’t doing too hot either. Grief, doubt, regret, blame… Holly Chamberlin is sending us all on a self-pity stroll and there ain’t no comin’ BACK!
Bella and Frieda try to move on. Keyword: TRY. Therapy, bottling up emotions, you name it and these two have tried it. Eventually, Bella withdraws from her mother and Frieda is desperate for her fun-loving daughter to return. Bella is this corpse moseying around without a soul nor personality.
Maybe she should have left Bella alone in the library, content with her own thoughts. Lately it seemed so hard to know the right thing to do or to say…
What’s a woman to do when her daughter is distant? Frieda and Bella go to Frieda’s mother (Ruby) and stay at her home for the summer in hopes to reconstruct their lives, and these two need more than just some additional rebar in their foundation.
So off to Grandma’s house we go! Yorktide, Maine to be exact.
Ohh-la-la… but wait… there’s a man. Incoming: Jack. Jack isn’t a superhero of a man, nor is he extraordinarily sexy in any way, but he is PATIENT. Yaaaas a patient hunk-o-man! This is just what I need, friends! It’s also what Frieda needs after mourning the loss of her husband for what seems like AGES. Jack, also, happens to be an old friend of Frieda’s… friends-to-lovers-syndrome? I say #YESPLEASETHANKYOU! Whoot whoot!
Bella, too, finds friends and Ruby is the catalyst to all of this healing. Generations apart, Bella, Frieda, and Ruby are all harboring their own fears and what-ifs. But now that they are all together – and home – they are able to heal.
This book is immaculate. It’s an emotional journey from regret to absolution, from being lost to being found, a path from abuse to healing. Frieda opens her mind and gives herself permission to find love again, Ruby is on a mission to repair her small family (isn’t every mother… *tears*), and Bella finally sees that happiness is not having the best things but making the best of what you have: family.
There was no choice but to succeed. There was no choice but the accept the new reality and face the new future.
Holly Chamberlin’s writing is slow, and eloquent. Your heart will surrender and be completely encased in these unforgettable characters. Home for the Summer is heart wrenching and addictive. I was completely engrossed in this story of loss and strength. I also cried like my little heart wouldn’t heal, and I concurrently found peace as Bella, Frieda, and Ruby traveled on this epic journey towards happiness.