Review: The Summer That Made Us by Robyn Carr

Release date: September 5, 2017

Publisher: MIRA

Genre: Women’s Fiction 


Mothers and daughters, sisters and cousins–they lived for summers at the lake house until a tragic accident changed everything. The Summer That Made Us is an unforgettable story about a family learning to accept the past, to forgive and to love each other again. That was then… For the Hempsteads, two sisters who married two brothers and had three daughters each, summers were idyllic. The women would escape the city the moment school was out to gather at the family house on Lake Waseka. The lake was a magical place, a haven where they were happy and carefree. All of their problems drifted away as the days passed in sun-dappled contentment. Until the summer that changed everything. This is now… After an accidental drowning turned the lake house into a site of tragedy and grief, it was closed up. For good. Torn apart, none of the Hempstead women speak of what happened that summer, and relationships between them are uneasy at best to hurtful at worst. But in the face of new challenges, one woman is determined to draw her family together again, and the only way that can happen is to return to the lake and face the truth. Robyn Carr has crafted a beautifully woven story about the complexities of family dynamics and the value of strong female relationships. 


Wow this book was such an emotional read, way more than I was expecting it to be! There were highs and lows, ups and downs and I loved every minute of getting to know the dysfunctional Hempstead family. When I say dysfunctional I’m not even sure that word accurately describes things, this is a family steeped in tragedy going all the way back to the summer of ’89 and to say the events of that fateful summer messed them all up something fierce is putting it mildly.

Megan’s dying wish is to reunite her shattered family. At one point they were all super close and twenty seven years later most of them hardly speak at all. Jo and Lou are sisters who married brothers and they each had three daughters. They spent magical summers at their family lake house and life was pretty damn perfect for those summer months. When the youngest child, Bunny drowns the family is completely broken. Jo and Lou don’t speak and the daughters all mostly went their separate ways as well. Twenty seven years later and they’re back, for better or worse.

What makes Carr’s books standouts for me is her phenomenal characterization. Almost immediately I find myself invested and engrossed in the lives of her characters and this may be my favorite book of hers to date. I can’t even pick a favorite one here because they were all so real and raw, but Megan definitely wormed her way into my heart. I also really liked Krista, she is fresh out of prison after serving twenty five years and she was just such a unique women’s fiction character with her own type of spunk. 

The plot mostly focused on repairing the families fractured relationships while slowly revealing secrets from the past and there were quite a few doozies. I’m always fascinated by complex families and hidden stories and there were so many here. There was one little twist that I totally didn’t see coming, twists in women’s fiction always through me for a loop because I’m not waiting on the edge of my seat for them like in a thriller. 

Despite it being a highly evocative read it’s still very much a lighter read with substance. Carr’s trademark charm and easy writing style is in full effect making the perfect combination for a late summer read. 

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Thanks to Little Bird Publicity for my review copy. 

7 thoughts on “Review: The Summer That Made Us by Robyn Carr

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