SUMMER GIRL, A Novel
Does first love, true love, ever really die?
Jake Chambers, born on Cutter Island, is coming home for the first time in more than a decade. But as the ferry approaches the wharf, he finds himself on a collision course with his past … memories of a summer long forgotten and a girl destined to haunt him forever.
Andi Martin is also back on Cutter and, as she sits on the porch of the Sloane cottage, her mind wanders back to that summer of 1965 and a boy, once loved, but never forgotten.
Summer Girl is the story of Andi and Jake. Told in three distinct voices, it is a tale of love, loss, survival, and, most of all, hope.
PRAISE FOR SUMMER GIRL
“Linda Watkins’ coming of age/literary fiction novel, Summer Girl, begins with a fairy-tale romance that somehow goes crazily, tragically awry. Watkins shares the tale first through Jake’s eyes and then she gives Andi’s perspective, and I found myself mesmerized by their individual stories as well as the main tale itself, which is set in the unsurpassed beauty that is the Maine coast. I loved watching as the two uncertain and shy teens bring out the best in each other and then felt deeply involved in following the aftermath of that disturbing evening that changed everything. Watkins powerfully addresses the issues of the sexual and emotional abuse of minors by parents or caregivers, and its continuing impact is seen so clearly in Andi’s situation. Seeing how Jake and Andi continue to grow and become better somehow, simply because of their relationship no matter how short, is inspiring and makes for a marvelous reading experience. Summer Girl is most highly recommended.”
~Jack Magnus for Readers Favorite
“Summer Girl by Linda Watkins is a heartfelt story of a boy and a girl…Watkins has effectively taken me on an emotional roller coaster with this book. At times, I was happy, giddy with the feeling of young love, and then my heart was crushed with emotion that sent me reaching for the tissue box. Summer Girl was a beautifully laid out story of a bond created one summer that could never be broken. Without giving away the ending, I just want to say, for the first time in my life, I was rooting for the two lives to collide once again, even at the risk of losing the lives the two of them had independently created. I can’t say enough about this book. It captivated my heart from the beginning to the end. I would love to hear more about Jake and Andi. Beautiful, just beautiful!
~Patricia Bell for Readers Favorite
“Summer Girl isn't formula writing about a summer fling, but a deeper story of coming of age, sexual abuse in families, and methods of survival that enter the picture of a blossoming interpersonal relationship, making Summer Girl an unexpectedly complex read…This complexity is strengthened by the perspective of three different characters who narrate events…Andi's musings about her continued connections to the past, cemented by letters, and her observations not only of how her world has evolved, but what might have been: "...after I’d read what he’d written, I watched his hand move, reaching for me, and I knew that if I’d been given the chance I would have taken it and RUN . . . run away from this cottage . . . away from this life . . . run with him as fast as I could, the wind and salty air putting roses in our cheeks, the sound of the waves pounding in our ears. Run. Run until we found a beach . . . any beach . . . anywhere . . . where we could lie in each other’s arms and, if only for one night, tell the stories written in the stars once again. Consequences be damned.” The process of falling in love is well detailed in a moving account that is especially powerful for its inclusion of not only Andi and Jake's perspective, but that of an outside observer. These three threads mingle to create a story of one fateful summer of change and its lasting impact on all involved: participant and observer alike….Readers who enjoy coming of age stories given from the perspective of maturity and the passage of years will relish the unique detail and perspectives Summer Girl embraces, which sets it apart from other coming-of-age romances and makes it accessible to new adults as well as mature teen readers.”
~D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review
“…young love blossoms. Then, suddenly fate cruelly steps in to separate them before the summer ends. What follows for Jake and Andi, under the sensitive pen of Linda Watkins, is a sweet, sad love story that will touch all who read Summer Girl….But do not think for one moment that Summer Girl is young adult or simple romantic fiction. The reasons for the sudden separation, which lasts for many years, are bad ones, ugly in fact, and it takes three narrators, Jake, Andi and Sammy, to fill in all the details of Jake and Andi’s story. Having three narrators in such a short book is unusual, but Linda Watkins handles it beautifully, and when one finishes reading, you marvel at this novel approach to literary fiction. It truly works….Watkins is also skilled in her use of dialogue to reveal characters, in providing just the right amount of description to nail settings and moods, and in creating curiosity that keeps us turning pages. Even as we close the book, we are left wondering, as the protagonists are, if first love is indeed the only true love…. Highly recommended reading.”
~Viga Boland for Readers Favorite
“We all know the cleaving ache of our first love. But to really make the reader feel that desperate torturous longing – Good luck, buddy. Well, Linda Watkins has done exactly that – and beautifully – in Summer Girl. She has crafted that sweep of excitement and fervid heartbreak not through necking on the beach or furtive sex for a few weeks on the island. No, this isn’t a tale of Nantucket-style Summer of ’42 or a saccharine Summer Place, but a tale of love arisen and somehow – despite vicious betrayal and extended adversity – preserved and growing, creating its own special hope. My writing focuses on warfare, but in Summer Girl, Watkins led me through an emotional battlefield. My only other words about this wonderful story are “read it.””
~J. Scott Payne, bestselling author of Brought to Battle and The Green Hell