About the Book:
A novel about mothers and daughters, about taking chances, about exploding secrets and testing the boundaries of family
Years ago, during a certain summer in Maine, two young women, unaware of each other, met a charismatic man at a craft fair and each had a brief affair with him. For Jane it was a chance to bury her recent pain in raw passion and redirect her life. For Susie it was a fling that gave her troubled marriage a way forward.
Now, sixteen years later, the family lives these women have made are suddenly upended when their teenage girls meet as strangers on social media. They concoct a plan to spend the summer in Maine with the man who is their biological father. Their determination puts them on a collision course with their mothers, who must finally meet and acknowledge their shared past and join forces as they risk losing their only daughters to a man they barely know.
THAT SUMMER IN MAINE By Brianna Wolfson On Sale: June 23, 2020 320 pages $16.99 USD MIRA CONTEMPORARY FICTION Sisters / Family / Women’s Friendship / Mothers and Daughters
Q & A with Brianna Wolfson
Q: What message do you hope readers take away from That Summer in Maine?
A: I hope readers consider, and reconsider, the role of blood in their relationships to their family.
Q: What’s the story behind the story/how you came to write this novel?
A: I come from a mixed family and feel that it is an extremely important part of my identity. As a result, I find myself talking to a lot of people about their family setup and experiences play a role in their identity. Through those conversions, I learned just how many people have non-blood immediate family members and wanted to tell a story that reflected a different flavor of family structure.
Q: Do you have any specific writing rituals (outfit, snacks, pen,music, etc)?
A: Every morning! It’s just like going to the gym; the more you write, the easier it gets and the more you can do.
Q: Which character do you most relate to in this novel and why?
A: I think every character has a little bit of every writer in them. Same is true here!
Q: What can you tell us about your next project?
A: I’m considering something non-fiction, actually. To my response above, I really enjoy hearing about people’s lived family experiences and hope I can do something with those kinds of stories one day.
Q: Why Maine?
A: Maine is a magical place. It has so much physical beauty (especially the lakes and trees in the summer) while also having some mystique. I thought it was a ripe setting for an adventure.
Q: What would you do if you discovered a sibling you never knew you had?
A: Give them a big hug and welcome them to my already wacky family.
About the Author:
Brianna Wolfson is a New York native living in San Francisco. Her narrative nonfiction has been featured on Medium, Upworthy and The Moth. She buys a lottery ticket every Friday. Links: WEBSITE GOODREADS
Read an Excerpt:
Excerpted from That Summer in Maine © 2020 by Brianna Wolfson, used with permission by MIRA books.
ONE YEAR AGO
All mothers wish a perfect love story upon their daughters. The wish that their daughters will grow up wrapped in love and that one day they will go on to wrap others in love. They wish for their love to be simple and pure and uncomplicated.
As a single mother, Jane did everything she could to uphold that perfect love for her daughter, Hazel. At least, she’d tried.
Today, Jane gave birth to twin boys with a man she had recently fallen in love with and married. In the postbirthing haze, Jane could taste the salt on her upper lip where her sweat was now dried. The fiery heat deep within her body was starting to subside and her spine still felt sore and twisted. Jane held one twin against her bare chest while the other was tucked into the crease of her husband Cam’s arm. Jane motioned for him to come closer and embrace the start of their family. “I love you,” she said and kissed him and then the two babies gently. She looked up to see if she could find her daughter. The back of Hazel’s shoulder was just visible in the doorway as she stood cross-armed, looking away from the room. Hazel, at fourteen years old, looked both young and old for her age all at once standing there.
“Come in, honey, and meet your brothers,” Jane said gently.
Hazel turned around slowly, her black hair like a veil in front of her eyes. She shuffled toward her mother without lifting her feet and leaned over her bed. Jane brought her free arm up toward Hazel’s face and tucked her daughter’s hair behind her ear, revealing her eyes of different colors. Her lashes were damp, and her eyes—one green and one hazel—were clear and dewy. A mother can always tell when her child has been crying. Jane leaned over to kiss Hazel’s cheek, but her sudden movement startled her newborn, who let out a brief wail that ended when Jane returned her body to its original position.
Hazel’s shoulders fell. Hazel wanted that kiss. Perhaps needed it.
“Meet your brother Griffin,” Jane whispered to Hazel, tilting her arm ever so slightly so that her daughter could see her brother’s face. “And that’s Trevor over there.” Cam took a few steps toward Hazel and smiled with pride.
“I thought we were going to name him August,” Hazel challenged.
“Last-minute change. Give them both a big kiss, big sis.”
Hazel rolled her eyes and placed her lips on each baby and then huffed out of the room without another word. To Jane, her family finally felt full. But she could tell that for Hazel, something had emptied.
In her happiness of sharing this moment with Cam and welcoming her two new healthy babies, Jane had neglected to consider the impact on Hazel’s perfect love story. Cam came over and kissed her forehead.
“I love this family,” he said.
Jane let that sink in. Deep. And then wondered if he was including Hazel in his definition of family. And couldn’t deny a shift within her own heart. It had expanded and made room for two more babies. And these two new sons deserved their own pure, simple, uncomplicated love story. And Jane would give it to them wholeheartedly. She felt resolute and focused about it.
Indeed, she forgot to wonder what it would mean for Hazel’s happiness. For her sense of family and her sense of self.
Hazel Box and her single mother, Jane, had a close and loving relationship throughout her childhood and into her teen years. Then Cass came into her mother’s life. While Cass provided love and stability that Jane never knew with Hazel’s father, the new family dynamic has Hazel feeling like an outsider. When the twin boys are born, Hazel feels more than ever that she doesn’t belong. When Hazel is contacted online by a girl claiming to be her half-sister, Hazel jumps at the chance for a genuine connection.
Eve has been harboring anger ever since she learned that her father was not her biological parent. Her internet searches have let her find her birth father, as well as discovering a half-sister her own age. She spent some time last year with Silas, her birth father, and she intends to do so again this year, only this time, with Hazel along.
THAT SUMMER IN MAINE explores the varied and complicated relationships between the newly discovered sisters, former lovers, and blended families. When I selected this book to read, I assumed that the focus was going to be on the mothers of the girls and their former lover, but I was mistaken. While everyone’s story is touched on to some degree, Hazel is the hub, with her feelings of alienation and separation, and her search for belonging. I’m truly not a fan of teenage / young adult books, as my preference is to read about people who have had a chance to mature some, find out who they are, and then see the choices they make. Having said that, I did enjoy seeing the self revelations that Hazel’s mother discovered when her daughter was away from home, and how she allowed her new found happiness to truly take away from the relationship she had with Hazel. While I felt a tad sorry for Silas, the girls’ father, who was portrayed as a somewhat tragic figure, I also couldn’t help but shake my head at his carelessness and wonder if there were a dozen more unknown half-sisters lurking about. I appreciate that Hazel did somewhat find some peace, and a better sense of herself. THAT SUMMER IN MAINE is the type of read which will appeal to readers who really like to delve into complicated relationships, and those who enjoy exploring the emotions and lives of girls on the verge of becoming women in this crazy world. ~Rose