MIRA - Hardcover
ISBN:  978-0-77833-104-0
September 2017
Women's Fiction

Lake Waseka, Minnesota - Present Day

Charlene Berkey is forty-four years old, and she's been at the top of her game for twelve years hosting a successful talk-show in San Francisco.  Now, Charley's show is cancelled and she's at a crossroads in her life.  Her twenty-two year relationship with Michael is at a turning point as well.  Michael wants marriage after all this time!  They've been perfectly happy for all these years, having raised their son Eric to his eighteen year mark, but suddenly, Michael is insisting they have a legal ceremony!  Charley is on edge; her life has quickly become too complicated and she doesn't know where to turn, until her sister Megan makes a heartfelt request.

Megan Crane, or Meg, has been fighting breast cancer, and now, she's in the final stages of the disease. She and her husband John separated two years ago, and even though they still see each other often, they cannot agree on Meg's choice of treatment for the disease.  Now Meg has one wish that will impact the rest of her life.  She wants to open up the lake house and reunite the Berkey-Hempstead family, so she calls sister Charley for help.

Nearly forty years ago, sisters Louise and Josephine Berkey married brothers, Carl and Roy Hempstead.  The sisters' parents own a house on the shores of Lake Waseka where the families spent all their summers.  Louise and Jo each had three daughters alternately born one year apart.  Louise birthed Charlene, Megan and Mary Verna (nicknamed Bunny); and Jo's daughters are Hope, Kirsten and Beverly.  The highpoint of every struggling year was the summer they spent at the lake house.  Until the year Charley was seventeen and Bunny accidentally drowned.  Unable to cope with the loss, Louise locked the doors and stopped speaking to Josephine.  That tragedy on the lake was the day that changed each member of the Berkey-Hempstead clan forever.

Now, Meg wants to open up the house on the lake.  She's sent invitations to all the girls, but not to her mother, Louise, who will surely try to stop her.  Wanting to support her sister and desperate for something to keep her mind occupied, Charley reopens and refurbishes the lake house, and finally, it's just her and Meg, back for a few months of relaxation.  Charley fears this will be Meg's last months and Charley strives to plan a perfect summer.  She doesn't anticipate that any of the other girls will come to the lake, but she wants this summer to be the best, especially if it turns out to be Meg's final visit.

THE SUMMER THAT MADE US is a wonderfully dynamic story of a family torn apart by tragedy.  As the days unfold, Charley and Meg do not expect to see the rest of the family, least of all their mother, Louise; but imagine their surprise when, one by one, each of the cousins start replying to Meg's invitation!  First is Kirsten, who has spent the last twenty-five years in a women's prison, and now, she suddenly appears on the doorstep of the lake house, unsure of her welcome.  Kirsten's sisters, Beverly and Hope have their own secrets.  After  Bunny's death when Louise cast sister Josephine from her side and out of the family, Jo found herself struggling to make ends meet for her and Kirsten, while her other two daughters, Beverly and Hope, left her side . . . Beverly to a foster home and Hope to her grandparent's mansion.  Even today, Jo still struggles to make ends meet while Louise lives in the lap of luxury, still refusing all contact with Jo.

THE SUMMER THAT MADE US starts out as an idyllic retreat for Charley, Meg, and Kirsten, but comes to a crest when the cousins decide that it is time to confront Louise about the secrets that have shaped their lives for twenty seven years.  Unfolding layer by layer, each page brings readers an intriguing mix of secrets and lies, along with a measure of solid love, and strength of character in an unforgettable story.

THE SUMMER THAT MADE US is a guaranteed keeper!

Diana Risso