Editorial note: I received a copy of Summer Hours in exchange for a review.
Summer Hours by Amy Mason Doan is a touching novel full of nostalgia and plenty of heart.
Summer Hours is set in the mid ’90s and 2008 and features the idealism of youth. It’s crazy how vivid memories are from the time period of college and right after. That’s when one really experiences the first taste of independence along with big dreams of what the future holds. But what ends up happening, is sometimes a very different picture altogether.
The story follows Becc, a star student with a bright future and dreams of being a serious journalist. But sometimes it can get tiring always during the right thing, especially as she fears she’ll become another miserable and complacent grown-up. So when Cal, an older, wealthy and handsome man, comes into the picture her first summer out of college, she embarks on a passionate affair. However, this secret love affair becomes a burden, especially when it comes to her relationship with her best friend Eric.
10 years later, Becc is on a road trip with a mystery man up the Pacific Coast Highway. But as he’s not eager to recreate history, Becc needs to decide if memories are worth holding on to or if it’s time to let go.
Gender-swapped nod to The Graduate
So let’s first talk about Becc’s affair with Cal and while he sounds handsome and seems nice, it doesn’t change the fact that he’s in his lower 30s and Becc isn’t even 21 yet when they start their affair. Now I do appreciate that Becc embraces her newly-found sensuality and everything is her choice—she’s not pressured at all. I love when fiction, and 95% of the time it’s women’s fiction, shows a woman in control of her sex life and enjoying the sex. So that’s the good! But I couldn’t get over the age difference. It’s one thing if Becc was in her mid 20s and Cal is in upper 30s; okay, that’s fine. But the fact he becomes so enamored with a girl in college, just felt overall icky. But again, this is Becc’s story and even though the affair with Cal becomes even more complicated than she ever imagined, it helps her grow quite a bit emotionally. And also, it allowed her to rebel for the first time in her life.
Dreams and then reality
So I think anyone can relate to having big dreams, right? From wanting to direct Hollywood blockbusters to becoming President one day, dreams are special. But many times, life has other plans. I definitely related to Becc’s journalism dreams as I had very similar ones. And it was definitely interesting reading her unexpected career path. While the affair is a big storyline, the novel really is about Becc’s journey to adulthood and part of that is finding her footing in life. And a fun section is when Becc sneaks away from her first job with her best friend Eric.
I also enjoyed the road trip taken in 2008. I don’t want to give anything away but it’s full of surprises.
Final review thoughts: This is a thoughtful novel about the journey of becoming the person you’re meant to be.
There’s plenty to discuss with book clubs so click here for my book club questions.