One of the many phrases alcoholics learn in the rooms of AA to help them daily stay sober is, “we seek progress, not perfection.” And that is certainly something Cat seeks when she hits bottom in Jane Green’s new novel, SUMMER SECRETS (ST.MARTINS PRESS). But unfortunately, like any good alcoholic hitting bottom is going to mean Cat has to hurt a lot of people, including herself, before ending up at that demoralizing destination.
From the beginning of SUMMER SECRETS, Cat doesn’t feel like she fits into her family, and soon finds out why, when her father dies. She regularly gets drunk, ends up in the beds of strange men, making jokes about her black-outs and complaining about her headaches and stomach problems – uh Cat, that’s what we call a hangover. At the beginning, she’s the life of the party, but soon even her own friends don’t want to hang out with her.
Cat grows up in England with her American mother and British father, but once he dies, her mother informs her that her real father is an American painter living on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts and that he has two daughters. She learns her real father may be an alcoholic, so for the first time, she considers she may, too. Cat is immediately caught up finally understanding why she never felt wanted by the man who raised her, and the excitement at having two half-sisters. Plans are made for a reunion in The States.
Everything starts off great on Nantucket. Cat hits it off with her father and sister, Julia, but her other sister, Ellie is very cold and reserved. It’s a small community and Islanders are warm and accepting, but alcohol becomes a challenge for Cat. Drinking starts in the morning, continues through lunch, afternoon cocktails, soon dinner and long into the evening hours. Cat makes a huge mistake for which her new family tells her it’s “best she leaves.”
She travels back to England where she continues her downward spiral, until finally she reaches her bottom and surrenders to a Power greater than herself.
Cat gets a good sponsor, starts working the program and soon she’s at step 9, which is making amends to those she has harmed. There are quite a few on that list, including some in England and a few over the pond; it’s time to buy a plane ticket!
SUMMER SECRETS is the story of a courageous woman coming face to face with her demons and taking them straight on. It’s not pleasant, clean or comfortable to read in places. Cat has to go through a lot pain with grit, determination and have the tenacity to get back up again and again, even though she’s pretty worn out!
Those in recovery say, “always recovering, never recovered.” SUMMER SECRETS is a great book for the alcoholic or addict in your life – maybe it’s you. Jane Green lays out the real deal in SUMMER SECRETS!
Thank you to BOOK SPARKS SUMMER CHALLENGE 2015 AND www.GoBookSparks.com and ST. MARTIN’S PRESS http://www.stmartinspress.tumblr.com for providing a copy of SUMMER SECRETS for an honest review!
For all things JANE, Check out http://www.janegreen.com or on twitter @janegreen and facebook.com/ authorjanegreen