Summer Girl

Summer Girl

A Novel

Fiction - Literary
254 Pages
Reviewed on 08/20/2017
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Born on the east coast, Linda Watkins grew up in a suburb of Detroit. Upon graduation from college (Carnegie Mellon, '70), she moved to the San Francisco Bay Area where she lived and worked for most of her adult life. In 2006, she packed her belongings and, along with her 3 rescue dogs, took the plunge and moved to a remote island off the coast of Maine. It was there that she wrote her award-winning first novel, Mateguas Island.

Her success continued with the next two novels in the series, Return to Mateguas Island and Ghosts of Mateguas, both award-winners.

Linda currently resides in Sedona, AZ and has just completed a work of literary fiction, Summer Girl, A Novel and a novella entitled Sarah & Zoey.

For more information about her and her work, please visit her website at www.lindawatkins-author.com, her blog, www.lindawatkins.biz, or her book website, www.mateguasisland.com.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Patricia Bell for Readers' Favorite

Summer Girl by Linda Watkins is a heartfelt story of a boy and a girl. For Jake, living on Cutter Island, off the coast of Maine, life is pretty laid back. That is until the summer of ’65 when he meets fifteen-year-old Andi. That was not only the summer Jake fell in love with his “Summer Girl;” it was also the year his heart was torn to pieces. This is a two-part story told from Jake's perspective in the beginning and ending with Andi’s. Although the stories are the same, they are comparatively different. Andi’s story is one of abuse and neglect. One that Jake never knew or understood. Even so, the two of them unknowingly guided each other into adulthood, shaping each other’s lives in the best way possible.

Linda 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!

Viga Boland

The young boys of Cutter Island, like Jake, eagerly anticipate the arrival of the summer girls each year. That eagerness isn’t shared by the parents of Cutter Island as the island’s streets become choked with tourists, but with tourists comes income for the islanders. For young Jake, the tourist influx in the summer of 1965 brings him his Summer Girl, Andi. Complete with gorgeous red curly hair, a keen mind, and everything it takes to turn a young boy into a man, Andi is as smitten with Jake as he with her. Their 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.

There is one caveat that comes with this review of Summer Girl by Linda Watkins: if you have ever been sexually abused by a family member, be prepared for the possibility of some uneasiness with what Andi will share when it’s her turn to narrate. Andi’s side of her story as the Summer Girl is, sadly, the story of far too many young females. Well done, Linda Watkins. Highly recommended reading.

Jack Magnus

Summer Girl is a literary fiction/coming of age novel written by Linda Watkins. It had been over twelve years since Jake had last visited Cutter Island, the small island on Maine’s southern coast where he had grown up. He had not really planned on ever going back there again. There were just too many memories and, when his father died and his mother sold their waterfront home, Cutter Island no longer held any pull on the author who had made California his home. His wife had suggested the trip both for him and his two boys, who she felt should get to know their grandmother, uncle and cousins. And so he found himself disembarking from the mainland ferry and being profoundly moved by the sight of an older man unloading traps from his lobster, and being helped by a skinny kid who reminded him so powerfully of himself, twenty years before that.

Cutter Island became a different place during the summer season. The residents’ wild and natural island home bustled with the summer people who were, themselves, a force of nature. Jake helped his uncle prepare the clambakes that the summer folk would order, spending long hours building the pits that would cook the lobsters, clams and other clambake staples. And he was sixteen, watching the ferry pull in with its current load of summer people as he helped his lobsterman dad when he saw her -- the girl with curly red hair and the most penetrating blue-gray eyes, who would become his summer girl. Every moment they shared deepened their sense of belonging and rapport. Jake could never have believed that a summer girl would even notice him, but Andi was different, and before too long, the two young adults had fallen deeply in love.

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.