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The town of Yorktide, close to Maine's beautiful beaches and the city of Portland, seems like the perfect place to raise a family. For Jane Patterson, there's another advantage: her best friend, Frannie Giroux, lives next door, and their teenaged daughters, Rosie and Meg, are...
The town of Yorktide, close to Maine's beautiful beaches and the city of Portland, seems like the perfect place to raise a family. For Jane Patterson, there's another advantage: her best friend, Frannie Giroux, lives next door, and their teenaged daughters, Rosie and Meg, are inseparable. But in the girls' freshman year of high school, everything changes.
Jane always felt lucky that she was able to work from home, to be there to nurture and protect Rosie. But has she been too protective? Rosie--quiet, shy, and also very pretty--attracts the sneers and slights of a clique of older girls. Over time, the bullying worsens. When Meg betrays their friendship, fearful that she too will be targeted, Rosie suffers an emotional breakdown.
Blaming both Meg and Frannie, Jane tries to help Rosie heal while dealing with her own guilt and anger. In the months that follow, each struggles with the ideas of forgiveness and compassion, of knowing when a friendship has been shattered beyond repair--and when hope can be salvaged, one small moment at a time. . .
Praise for the novels of Holly Chamberlin
"Nostalgia over real-life friendships lost and regained pulls readers into the story." –USA Today on Summer Friends
"An honest, forceful novel about love, family, and sacrifice." --Booklist on One Week in December
"It does the trick as a beach book and provides a touristy taste of Maine's seasonal attractions." --Publishers Weekly on The Family Beach House
A letter from Holly Chamberlin
Inspiration for LAST SUMMER
Young people committing suicide because they were the target of bullying and simply couldn't stand the awful emotional pain any longer is rampant in the news. You would have to have been living in a cave, or have a heart made of stone not to be aware of these stories and be appalled by them, so it was an easy decision to write a book with one of the main characters suffers at the hands of bullies. The timing seemed right, and I hoped I could tell a story that might move and inspire readers.
What was challenging though was creating a unique story for a character and building a world of family, friends, and community around her. That's where I found inspiration in bits of my own personal experience. Rosie, our bullied teen, is in some ways an exaggeration of my own shy and very conscientious young self, though the particulars of her story are her own. Yes, I was bullied, but the circumstances of my bullying were far different, and less severe, than those Rosie endured. To portray her close friendship with Meg, her next-door neighbor and classmate, I drew upon memories of close friendships with my girlhood pals, people I met in first grade with who I grew into young adulthood. As for the relationship between the girls' mothers, Jane and Frannie, I drew upon the various friendships I've developed throughout my adult years, as well as on observations about friendships between women in my social network.
That said, LAST SUMMER took on a life of its own as it came about. I think a writer is always surprised to some extent by the independent spirit of the book they are writing. For all a writer's careful planning, at some point a story will surprise if not shock them.
I've already heard from several readers who found the book both true to life and ultimately uplifting, including a teacher who told me she thought LAST SUMMER should be recommended reading in her school. Another reader told me the book helped him to understand his own experiences being bullied as a child. These responses to the story have been more than gratifying, and I hope many other readers will find Rosie's journey inspiring. Not every bullying episode needs to in tragedy and the more people are aware of this frightening trend, I believe the more happy endings there are in store.
The Patterson house had been built sometime in the 1930s. At least, that's what Rosie's dad had told her. It wasn't a tiny house, in fact, it was the second-biggest house on the road, but Mrs. Patterson had decorated it so that it felt cozy and welcoming, even on the coldest day of the year. And in Maine, even pretty far south where the Pattersons lived, close to the New Hampshire border, that could easily mean temperatures below freezing.
On the first floor were the living room and a small den. In the living room there was a big fireplace with a wide stone mantel on which Mrs. Patterson displayed portraits of the family, including those members long gone, and her small but good collection of milk glass. Generally, the living room was reserved for when guests came to visit, not that that was often, especially not now. The den was the room where the Pattersons watched television or read in the evenings, after the dinner dishes were cleaned and homework was finished. It was probably the most snug room in the house with a thick, colorful rug, a bookcase that covered almost an entire wall, and three big armchairs, one really big, another sort of big, and the third, Rosie's, smallish. Just like the chairs for the three bears from the Goldilocks fairy tale, Rosie had noted when she was little. The comparison had often made her smile.
The kitchen, also on the first floor, was Rosie's mother's pride and joy. She loved to cook and had bought the best pots and pans and knives she could afford. Jane Patterson kept the kitchen spotless and the cupboards perfectly organized. Rosie had long ago memorized where every serving fork and can of tomatoes and jar of wild rice belonged. Behind the kitchen and leading out to the small patio and large backyard there was a small screened-in room where the Pat–tersons stored some of the spring gardening tools, as well as shovels and bags of rock salt for winter use. (The snow–blower lived in the toolshed.) On the patio sat a wrought iron table and chair set, Mike Patterson's charcoal–fueled grill, and some of Mrs. Patterson's potted plants. In good weather, the Pattersons often ate dinner on the patio, though so far this summer no one had made the suggestion that they emerge from the security of the kitchen. That wasn't surprising.
A staircase off the living room led to the second floor, on which there were Rosie's bedroom, a bathroom in the hallway, and her parents' bedroom and private bath. Her mother had decorated both bedrooms with good faux-antique furniture and a few small genuine pieces. The chairs were upholstered in a cabbage rose print, and over each bed hung a ruffled canopy in the same print. Rosie had added her own small personal touches to her room, like a framed print of one of her favorite paintings. It was a portrait of the Princesse Albert de Broglie (whoever she was) painted by a French painter named Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres. Rosie thought the shimmering blue of the princess's dress was magical. Rosie had no talent for art, she could hardly draw a straight line, but she loved to study the paintings in her mom's art and design books and thought she might be developing what her mom called "a pretty good eye."
The basement of the Patterson home housed Jane Patterson's sewing room and a dressing room for her clients (Rosie's mom had a small tailoring business), Mike Patterson's at–home office where the family's computer was kept, and the washing machine and dryer. The basement was also where the boiler and all those other kinds of frightening "Dad machines" lived. Rosie had little if any idea of how any of them worked or what, exactly, they did, and that was fine by her. She was like her mother in that way. Stuff to do with gas and electricity and plumbing was stuff that men dealt with. Maybe that was a little old-fashioned, but that's the way it was in the Patterson house.
Rosie touched the glass of the living room window with one slender finger, as if that touch would bring her closer to the beautiful June morning just outside. The strengthening sun was drying what remained of the crystal–like dew. Two robins were hopping around on the front lawn, and she could hear the scolding cry of a blue jay somewhere not far off. The crows were silent at the moment and Rosie was glad for that. When she was little, their absurdly loud cawing had terrorized her. She had been convinced the birds were screaming in pain, not just going about the noisy business of being crows. But then, she had been an ultrasensitive child. Her mother often reminded her of that. And the past few months had further proved that her mother's opinion was correct. She was now an ultrasensitive young woman.
Though at this time of the day she couldn't see her reflection in the window in front of her, Rosie imagined that she could. (Imagining came easy to Rosie.) At times she wondered if there was some real connection between how you looked and your personality or character. It was a silly notion, and one that probably only found its truth in plays and novels where the villains were all short, dark, and ugly and the tragic heroines were all tall, pale, and beautiful. But what if it really wasn't a silly notion? In that case, Rosie thought, seeing herself in her mind's eye, her own appearance kind of proved her ultrasensitive personality and, as her mother often said, her "specialness."
First, there was her long, light blond hair that she usually wore in a single braid down her back. When her hair was loose, like when she had dried it after a shower, her father said she looked like Rapunzel. Then there were her big eyes, an unusual vibrant green surrounded by dark lashes. Since she was little, people had been telling her how beautiful she was. It had always made Rosie uncomfortable, strangers coming up to her and her mother on the street and saying things like, "Oh, my God, your daughter could be a model!" Why did people feel the need to comment on other people's appearance? Rosie thought it seemed kind of rude but was too polite to say anything like, "Could you please keep your comments about my body and my face to yourself? It embarrasses me." Plus, her mother had never asked anyone not to talk about her daughter's appearance—in fact, Rosie thought her mom kind of enjoyed hearing those comments—and Rosie wasn't the sort of girl to protest a parent's decisions. She just wasn't.
She was tall, too, and that was another thing that people often commented on. At her last checkup the doctor had estimated she would grow to be about five feet nine inches, which was a little taller than her mother but not as tall as her father. And she was really slim, which lots of girls at school had told her they envied. But Rosie had no interest in their obsession with thinness. She was thin because she was thin. So was her mother. It was no big deal, no better or worse than having red hair or brown eyes. Sometimes, in fact, Rosie wished she were totally average-looking or maybe even ugly so that people would see only what mattered about her, like the fact that she was smart and tried always to be good and polite and kind.
Rosie's attention was pulled back from the land of imagination and into the moment at hand as one of the neighbors, a nice older woman named Mrs. Riillo, came walking down the narrow sidewalk. Rosie began to raise her hand, intending to wave, but quickly dropped it. She didn't want to call attention to herself, standing alone at the window. Lately, she had begun to feel too much like the heroine of a novel she had read back in eighth grade. She had found the slim volume on a shelf in the den, stuck in between two of her father's fat mystery novels, almost as if it were hiding. In the story, a young woman not much older than Rosie was trapped in her home by her own fears and inhibitions. Her bedroom window provided her some small access to the outside world, while at the same time, with its heavy drapery that she could pull securely shut, the window represented the extreme isolation in which she chose to live.
It was a powerful story with no real ending, happy or otherwise, and it still haunted Rosie. She had chosen to write about it for an extra-credit assignment. Her English teacher had been more than a bit surprised at her choice—most of the other students had chosen to write about action and adventure stories—but she had given Rosie an A. Rosie almost always got As on her tests and assignments.
Mrs. Riillo was gone now, out of Rosie's sight. A neighborhood cat, an enormous shaggy tom named Harvey, was slinking across the front yard, his eyes riveted on the two robins. Rosie shut her eyes and hunched her shoulders as he leapt forward, intent on a kill. When she opened her eyes, slowly and just a bit, she sighed with relief. The birds had flown to safety and the cat was washing his face as if nothing had gone awry. She knew that cats were predators and that Mother Nature was not always pretty. Still, any kind of violence made Rosie feel queasy.
Satisfied that he was clean and presentable once more after his failed attempt at breakfast, the cat trotted off. Rosie sighed and for a moment felt a wave of restlessness overcome her. The day ahead stretched out for what seemed like an impossibly long way, offering far too much time to fill. The last term paper had been submitted and graded, and the last test had been taken and passed. Now what?
The final weeks of ninth grade had been packed with activity, from writing those term papers to cleaning out lockers that had accumulated all sorts of interesting and sometimes slightly yucky tidbits. There had been the homeroom party on the very last day of class, complete with cupcakes and potato chips, and the trip up to Portland a few days before that to visit the museum and have lunch at Flatbread, the awesome organic pizza place with the huge brick oven. Judy Smith, a pretty, smart girl who everyone liked, had had a party in her backyard for most of the other freshman girls and a few of the boys. Mr. Smith had grilled red hot dogs and Mrs. Smith had made killer potato salad and brownies, and though it was still too cold for swimming, a few kids had brought their bathing suits just in case. In the end, Judy's aboveground swimming pool remained empty of all but a bobbing beach ball.
Well, Rosie had imagined all those details about the home–room party and the class trip to Portland and Judy's party, because she hadn't gone to any of them. She could have participated in all three events. But she hadn't.
Here came Trudy Loren, a woman from the next road, walking her yellow Lab. Rosie stepped back a bit from the window, again reluctant to be seen watching the world go by. But Trudy was chatting on her phone, oblivious to the tall, thin girl behind the glass. In a moment, she was gone, heading in the direction of the park.
Rosie stepped forward and once again touched the glass with her finger. If this summer was going to be at all like last summer and the summer before that and even the one before that, she would have a lot of fun to look forward to. Sure, there was some reading to be done for school. Mr. Arcidia–cono, who was going to be their tenth-grade English teacher, had given out a list of novels and nonfiction and instructed everyone to choose two books from each category, read the books through, and write a report on each one. For someone like Rosie who loved to read and write, the assignment would be enjoyable. And she would read way more books than the four suggested by Mr. Arcidiacono, anyway. She had always been a big reader, just like her parents.
But other than the reading assignment, the only responsibility facing Rosie this summer was to enjoy the warm and sunny weather. It had been a particularly long winter; by mid-May temperatures had barely reached fifty degrees. Everyone, even kids, not just grumpy, arthritic adults like their neighbor Mr. Newman, had been complaining about the cold and gray for so long it really had seemed as if this would be the year that spring never came.
Yes, if this summer was going to be like every other summer past, there would be trips to the beach, and lazy afternoons spent lying under the gingko tree in the backyard, daydreaming and planning an exciting, exotic future. There would be the annual trip to Chauncey Creek where they would get lobster rolls, and there would be a blueberry-picking excursion, after which they would make muffins and pancakes and pies with all the berries they had collected. And there would be trips to the green market and long bike rides and movies at the Leavitt Theatre in Ogunquit and . . .
Rosie pressed her lips together tightly and reminded herself that this summer would not be like last summer or like any of the summers before it. This summer would be a summer without Meg Giroux, Rosie's former best friend turned traitor. It was a strong word, "traitor," but Rosie thought it was the right one. Not that she would speak the word aloud, not even to herself, not even to Dr. Lowe, her therapist. Dr. Lowe wasn't supposed to judge her patient, but still, Rosie was afraid to appear vindictive.
Rosie consciously fingered the few thin, lingering scars on her left arm and then pulled the sleeve of her pink cotton shirt down over her hand. At that moment, as if summoned by Rosie's troubled thoughts, Meg, carrying a watering can, came through the front door of her home next door. Rosie quickly backed away from the window and turned toward the sanctuary that was her own home.
The counter beyond clean, Jane rinsed the sponge and squeezed it until it was close to bone dry. The physical effort caused a dull ache in her right hand. She sighed and flexed her fingers. She wondered if she was developing arthritis. It would seem likely, given all the years of working with her hands. Well, if that was the case there was nothing much she could do about it. Her mother had developed severe arthritis in her fifties. Jane thought it might be an inherited condition.
Jane Patterson was about five feet seven inches on a good day, which was getting harder to find; she often caught herself slumping, and a muscle under her right shoulder seemed to have permanently clenched itself into a throbbing ball. Just after her forty-second birthday last summer, her normally perfect eyesight had begun to fail and she now wore prescription glasses for close work and reading. Wearing glasses didn't bother her; it was the cost of the prescription that was problematic. Both she and her husband were self–employed and that meant outrageous insurance costs. They weren't poor but they weren't rich, either, at least not by local standards. All you had to do was drive through certain parts of York County or the town of Ogunquit and you would find massive mansions overlooking the ocean and estates that went on for miles. But Jane loved her house on Pond View Road and enjoyed making it a home. Some women might balk at the term "homemaker," seeing it as old-fashioned and somehow demeaning. But Jane thought otherwise.
Excerpted from Last Summer by Holly Chamberlin Copyright © 2012 by Elise Smith. Excerpted by permission of Kensington Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted May 29, 2012
This novel centers on The Patterson family and The Giroux family; especially the mothers and daughters. Have the events in this story destroyed the relationship between the families? I hope you get a chance to read this book and find out for yourself. Rosie Patterson and Meg Giroux have been best friends for a long time. They have lived next door to each other for years. Jane Patterson and Frannie Giroux also have been best friends for a long time too. Over the years Rosie and Meg have confided many secrets to each other. Both girls trusted each other to keep those secrets and they both have up until now. Meg is an outgoing young lady that can stand on her own two feet. Rosie on the other hand is a little more on the timid and laid back side. It seems for months Rosie has been picked on by several girls in and out of school. Meg doesn’t like that Rosie won’t stick up for herself. In a moment that Meg instantly regretted she blurted out to the leader of the girls that have been picking on Rosie a secret about Rosie. Of course, the secret was spread around school by these malicious girls. The damage done to Rosie was pretty bad. There was more abuse and bullying that came out in this book. I don’t want to spoil it for the reader. I found myself wanting to fight for Rosie. I wanted Rosie to tell someone! The relationship between Rosie and Meg and between Jane and Frannie is understandably strained. Will there be healing and forgiveness? Can Rosie ever trust Meg again? Can Jane and Frannie get their relationship back on track? Bullying is never an act that can be condoned. I think more public awareness is needed. Parents as well as school officials should always be on the alert. This is the first book I have read by the author Holly Chamberlin so I can’t compare it to her other novels. I was impressed with the subject line that she chose for this book and I feel she did a great job getting her point a cross in the telling of this story. I am looking forward to reading more novels by her. I wish to thank Kensington Publishing for providing me with an ARC to read and review. The opinions expressed are mine alone.
4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 2, 2012
This book was very good. This is the first time that I have ever read anything by Holly Chamberlin. I am not going to give any details away but during the course of time that I read this book I was wanting to finish it and read another book. After I had finished I was moved probably because I had been bullied myself when I was that age. But now I find myself wanting to continue on with these characters. I would recommend this book to anyone that likes Holly Chamberlin or to anyone who is looking for a new author.
3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 14, 2012
What a great story. Not only does it send a great anti bullying message it is a great message in forgiveness and moving forward.
2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 17, 2012
I think this book should be recommended to any young girls out there. Maybe it will be thought provoking enough to change someones life. Okay okay the book ha sa good message. Now for my opinion....the beginning dragged at first and i almost didnt finish this but i am very glad i did. And i dont know if its just my nook...but a few pages were mixed up in the middle and i had to jump between them. Very strange indeed. But this story truly did end up drawing me in. Possibly because the story content truly did speak to me, as i remember all to clearly being bullied and then becoming a bully myself. Anyways...few typos here and there but besides the 4 pages that were mixed up it wasnt anything too confusing and did not detract from the story at all
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 4, 2012
Posted May 24, 2013
I love holly Chamberlin's books and have read them all. This book tackled a tough issue facing families with teens these days. Even though it is fiction, it was very real. The characters are real and very eye opening. I have teenage boys and they get bullied too. It was interesting to watch the characters unfold, mature and redefine themselves. Every parent with teenagers should read as an indicator to signs of bullying in their own circle of teenagers. There is comfort in the strength of the characters. Loved it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 3, 2013
Posted August 1, 2012
Posted June 29, 2012
LAST SUMMER Holly Chamberlin
This is a story about bullying and it's everywhere these days. The grandmother bus monitor in NY was bullied and when others found out, via YouTube, people around the world donated money for her and her cause to stop bullying.
Rosie and her family, mom and dad live next door to Meg and her younger brother and parents.
Rosie and Meg are lifetime friends but Meg to fit in socially at school told another female Rosie's secret and then everybody in school knew and everybody shunned her.
Things get really bad til her parents find out then the parents are no longer friends with each other-the female heads of the families are also lifetime friends.
Medical issues arise and many secrets. Love the part about diaries and journals and the 'talking doctor' Rosie goes to.
The girls try to work their way around things to get back to what they once had.
When the community suffers again from another bullying attack they arise to meet and start a club that they hope will help others.
I liked the book and what it stands for.
Some kids today I find so mean to others their age and that they have no respect of older people. Hope things can change for them, make it a more peaceful world we can live in.
At time I found it very difficult to continue reading this book as the hurt was put there by just others words. Glad I did get to the end, i Looked forward to it ending in what I hoped would not be death.
Super loved reading about the different locations in Portland Maine. we do travel there at least once a year.
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Posted June 26, 2012
Rosie Patterson is the target of a bullying campaign at her school. What starts as just teasing from a group of girls, turns into full on abuse. The ultimate betrayal that Rosie receives is her best friend and next door neighbor, Meg Giroux, lets slip a big secret that is used to humiliate Rosie in front of the entire school. This pushes Rosie over the edge and into a downward spiral and ends with self-mutilation. The aftermath ends up tearing apart not only Rosie’s family but also Meg’s. Both families must come full circle and learn to forgive and move forward.
I am going to be completely honest and say I felt no emotion while reading Last Summer. I was fully expecting to be torn apart due to my own personal experiences but instead I felt I was just reading a story. Chamberlin didn’t pull me in. After reading the Q & A at the end, I figured out why. Chamberlin has never experienced bullying or any of the after effects., she has only researched it because she was asked to write a book on bullying. The storyline was well thought out but it is missing that emotion that needs to be incorporated to pull the reader in and make the impact that it should. I would still recommend readers to pick this book up just because Chamberlin does tell the story from many POVs and the reader realizes how bullying can affect the victim but also ripple thru everyone associated with the victim.
(ARC was provided by publisher for an honest review)
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Posted July 3, 2012
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Posted July 29, 2012
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Posted October 12, 2012
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