THE SUMMERTIME GIRLS

Laura Hankin

Ally Morris and Beth Abbott were beyond inseparable. From the very first time they met, the girls knew they’d found their once-in-a-lifetime friendship. But sometimes, life can’t help but get in the way…

When the girls return to Maine in the wake of a family crisis, they find the distance between them overwhelming. To save their exceptional bond, Ally and Beth have to confront painful moments in their past and redefine who they are—before their connection fades away for good.

more …

Ally Morris and Beth Abbott were beyond inseparable. From the very first time they met, the girls knew they’d found their once-in-a-lifetime friendship. But sometimes, life can’t help but get in the way…

When the girls return to Maine in the wake of a family crisis, they find the distance between them overwhelming. To save their exceptional bond, Ally and Beth have to confront painful moments in their past and redefine who they are—before their connection fades away for good.

less …
  • Berkley
  • Paperback
  • August 2015
  • 304 Pages
  • 9780425279632

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About Laura Hankin

Laura Hankin is a recent graduate of Princeton University. Her work has been published in The Washington Post, and she’s also written regularly for numerous websites. The Summertime Girls is her first novel.

Discussion Questions

The Summertime Girls is told in alternating viewpoints by Beth and Ally. Did you relate to one character more than the other as you were reading—and did you change your mind at any point? Why?

While the girls seem to fit into opposite personality stereotypes at first (Ally is the loose cannon, Beth is the uptight perfectionist), why do they not, in fact, fit these stereotypes at all? What actions give them away?

When they first meet as children, Ally decides Beth is like the kind and quiet Beth March from Little Women, while Beth silently thinks that Beth March was “kind of boring. Jo got to be the one with adventures, with the fire inside of her.” How is this significant, and does the sentiment fit in with Beth’s actions as an adult? By the end of the novel, do you think she’s lived up to her real March sister hero, Jo, or is she still catering to the expectations of others?

Ally worries about Beth going back to Haiti because “she didn’t want to be temporary to another person.” How have the important people in her life made her feel temporary, specifically what impact have her parents had on enforcing this feeling?

Toward the beginning of the novel, Beth philosophizes on life: “You had to be good, because if you weren’t, where did you put all the guilt? How could you ignore it, as it piled itself higher and higher?” What is “guilt” to Beth? By the end of the novel, what other ways has she found to face this guilt?

From Grandma Stella to Penny Joan, from the hardware store to the Britton Hills Bugle, the town of Britton Hills is its own lovable character in The Summertime Girls. What purpose does the town serve to Ally, Beth, Owen, and Grandma Stella?

When Ally and Beth fight, Ally says, “a best friend doesn’t necessarily stay your person forever. She stays a person, an important person, but she also gets boyfriends and spends time with them. It’s not that big a deal, it happens.” To what extent is she right or wrong about their relationship’s falling out?

Beth’s experience in Haiti is truly unimaginable. How does her reliance on Ally for comfort mirror Grandma Stella’s dependence on Penny Joan after her husband’s death? Is Beth right to blame Ally? Is Ally right in her anger?

How did you react to Owen’s family’s story? How much do you think his experience is a factor in Beth’s decision to forgive Ally—and what other factors influence her?

What about Nick attracts Ally to him? Do you think they have a real connection, or is he simply a rebound affair for her?