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Reviewed by Vincent Dublado for Readers' Favorite
Abigail Walker lived on the streets for nine months between 1986 and 1987. This homeless protagonist in Connie Chappell’s Summers Only is on the run from herself. Little did she know that one fateful day in July she would meet the altruistic Frank Cordell, a man pushing advocacy for the homeless. Frank saw a spark in Abigail that made him recruit her to join his shelter projects. Abigail was uniquely qualified, for she was a homeless nurse who fought drug addiction and won. As the opportunity provided her with shelter and protection, a new name would help to erase a dark past she is trying to forget, so she lives her new life as Terri Miller. But the past has a way of coming back as Terri begins to spread kindness to the people she encounters, especially those who have made a mark in her life.
Summers Only offers readers the dramatic theme of individual transformation. Connie Chappell examines human struggles with a deep interpersonal sensitivity. This novel’s strength hinges not only on its realistic portrayal of homelessness but on its ability to give a sense of the concreteness of the setting from a few striking details. It encourages readers to consider that everyone deserves a second chance. The expositions of Terri Miller’s past and life on the road remain in the reader’s memory, and even more so in Terri's present life when she finds herself in situations where her past is threatening to emerge. The novel’s truthfulness is effective to the point that it can sometimes be disturbing. A literary work infused with high tension and drama, Summers Only should have a place in your “must-read” list.