Most families pile their skeletons into a dark closet and bar the door against prying eyes. In The Last Weekend of the Summer, each family member has their own personal closet. There is some awareness to what each has hidden, but no one is opening doors and sharing… until the last weekend of the summer.
Weekends at the lake aren’t new, but wanting to settle issues and cast out demons, family matriarch, Gloria, doesn’t tell her family the depth and meaning this weekend holds until they arrive. Her disclosure sets off a wave of drama, but that’s nothing new for this family.
Mary is Gloria’s former daughter-in-law and mother to Gloria’s three adult grandchildren. She is also the reigning drama queen. Since before her marriage to Gloria’s son, Jake, ended in divorce, she’s played the put-upon victim. After the divorce, it only grew worse, and she raised her children in a toxic environment of her own self-pity and denial which is directly responsible for the personality traits and flaws they possess as adults.
Johnnie, the oldest, is the family peacemaker, always trying to keep the hot-pot between his mother and two sisters from boiling over.
Rosemary aka Rosebud aka Buddy hates her father for leaving and always defends her mother… even when she doesn’t agree with her. Buddy is also emulating her mother’s behavior and it’s creating conflict in her marriage.
Youngest, C.C., is the wild child who’s quick to act out or throw a tantrum and was conflicted about her sexuality.
This group is dysfunction at its best. There has been so much left unsaid and so much bad behavior allowed over the years, I wondered why they even bothered to get together at all.
And it showed no signs of ending.
Buddy wants to move Mary into their home and is hellbent on getting hubs, Norm, to agree. Norm wants no part of it, but when did he ever get what he wanted?
Carol, Johnnie’s wife, is the bright spot in this read for me.
She fits into the family dysfunction, but only because it suits her. She could be a shrew like Buddy, but that’s not who she is. Carol and Johnnie have a good, solid marriage, and she endures what she must out of love and support of him… and indirectly, Gloria.
Carol knows when to push and when to ease up, but she’s not afraid of calling any of them out on their crap.
Poor Norm ends up as the family fall guy and Buddy’s favorite target. He can do nothing right in her eyes and she never fails to let him know it.
But every man has his limits.
C.C. has always felt out-of-sync in her family, and life. Even after she accepts her true sexuality, C.C. doesn’t grow up because she feels she has to rebel at the unspoken disapproval of her family.
Not a group I’d want to be stuck with for a weekend, but Gloria feels she must do what she can to atone for her part in the family’s issues.
Jake’s arrival is the stick of dynamite needed to blow the years of closed mouths, secrets, and denials wide open and get honest communication started. Even if it hadn’t helped the adults, Buddy and Norm’s two young boys and Johnnie and Carol’s two teens could have fallen into similar patterns of behavior without open discussion. Susie and Joey, the teens, are already aware of tension and riffs… and at times, show more maturity and wisdom than some adults.
I felt bad for Jake and wonder if there was ever a time he could have changed directions. Gloria is sure she missed opportunities.
While abrupt, I felt the ending was fitting for those involved. But before that, there are still a few too many loose ends for me. I don’t need unicorns and rainbows, or even closure, just more direction.
The Last Weekend of the Summer is a unique look into the dynamics of one family and how attempts to keep the peace can be as destructive as lies and unspoken truths. Readers are sure to see something of themselves, or their families, in this read.
They have been coming to their grandmother Gloria’s lake cottage since they were babies. Now Johnnie and Buddy have families of their own and C.C. has a life full of adult drama and adventure. And this trip – the only stated purpose of which is to bring the family together for the last weekend of the summer – seems full of portent. Gloria has been hinting that there’s more on the agenda than grilling and swimming, and when the three siblings learn that their estranged father will also be in attendance, it becomes clear that this weekend will have implications that last far beyond the final days of the season.
A touching, incisive view into the dynamics of a family on the verge of change and filled with characters both distinctive and utterly relatable, THE LAST WEEKEND OF THE SUMMER is a rich, lyrical reading experience that will resonate in your heart.
Genre: Literary Fiction
Published by: The Story Plant
Publication Date: August 28, 2018
Number of Pages: 224
ISBN: 1611882575 (ISBN13: 9781611882575)
Purchase Links: Amazon Barnes & Noble Goodreads
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