Jamie Brenner's 'The Forever Summer': Five women and their pasts

Jamie Brenner, author of "The Forever Summer."

The Forever Summer

By Jamie Brenner

Little, Brown.

368 pp. $26

Reviewed by

Sarah Huffstetler

Jamie Brenner's third novel tells of five women who confront the secrets of their pasts, and how lies can destroy you - but the truth will take you down an unseen path leading to change and freedom.

One of these women is Marin Bishop, and her life is about to get complicated. At 30, she is a rising star at a prestigious New York City law firm, daughter of the most prominent lawyer in Philadelphia, engaged to a Wall Street banker, and working on her biggest case yet: a merger between a pharmaceutical firm and a genetic-testing company.

Rachel Moscowitz has always wanted to know the identity of her sperm-donor father. She dreams of a family life more normal than that with her often-absent and self-absorbed mother. As a production assistant on an ancestry search show in L.A., she discovers his name and embarks on a cross-country drive to Provincetown, Mass., to the bed-and-breakfast owned by her paternal grandmother, Amelia Cabral.

One misstep at work, and Marin's security is rocked by a broken engagement, a forbidden affair, her parents' impending divorce, and unemployment. So when Rachel, who has "eyes just like hers," appears at her New York City apartment proclaiming she is her half-sister, Marin decides a weekend at a beachside cottage would do her wounded soul good, and she opts to join her.

What they discover about their lives, and those of Marin's mother, Blythe; Amelia; and her wife, Kelly, is at the heart of this summer read. As Blythe discovers, "The truth always comes out. ... Maybe the truth isn't as scary as you think; it's the running away that's the problem." Each woman is tested by faith in one another and by the struggle to find stability and forgiveness in the complex web of betrayal, death, and heartbreak that resonates as the layers of secrets untangle.

The Forever Summer, as chick lit goes, is a satisfying, quick read about family, relationships, forgiveness, and discovering strength after loss. Brenner's rich narrative descriptions of Provincetown and its cast of characters has added the Massachusetts town to my list of travel destinations.

Her characters are mostly likable, though their occasional aversion to honesty is frustrating. If you like stories about family drama, sisterhood, and relationship tension, you'll like The Forever Summer, in spite of its many cliches and predictable ending.

This review originally appeared in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.