It was the combination of political drama, some thriller elements, and three generations of a family which need to come to terms with their past and life that made me want to read this novel. And when you consider that some stories are the perfect book for a day at the beach, swimming pool, or your own deck, then yes, this one is a good choice. Despite the dark moments in this story, most of the book is wonderful entertainment. At least it was for me.

Hallo Sommer*
by Mary Kay Andrews
Translation Andrea Fischer
Original Title Hello, Summer**
Publisher Fischer TB on March 29, 2023
Genre Novel
Pages 617
Format Paperback
Source Fischer TB

Lucky to come home.
At first, investigative journalist Conley Hawkins isn't thrilled when she ends up in her small hometown in Florida. But the family newspaper is not doing well. Conley does everything to save her together with her sister. In her grandmother's beach house, Conley learns that regional journalism can also produce sensations. And that new love can arise from old injuries.
Conley is about to get a new job when she hears that at home things aren´t working the way they are supposed to. She leaves Atlanta to help her family in Florida, only to find out that all the old problems and conflicts are still brewing within the three women. And when one night an accident with a burning car starts to shatter her world, she does her job. She starts to investigate and turn things around.

An enjoyable read with the theme of dementia as a backstory. The author dealt with it very sensitively and empathetically. And it quickly becomes clear to those somewhat familiar with the disease that many things in the novel and thus in the USA are very different than in this country (Germany). Nevertheless, there are wonderful scenes and dialogues that captivate the reader, inspire them, make them laugh or smile, and, together with the setting, simply create a holiday feeling. Well, the plot itself isn't new and at some points in the book I felt like I'd read it all before, but still, the author knows how to engage her readers and with the character of Grandmother Lorraine, she has landed an absolute hit. Mary Kay Andrews shows the conflict and tension with an easy-to-read writing style and the use of absolutely appropriate words. And works her way through to an unusually happy ending. At least that's how I felt.

This novel is also about a family that has gone through its good and bad times. Where the blessings of the family don't always hang straight, and the past doesn't make it easier for daughters Conley and Grayson to navigate through life with themselves and the family business.

What is passion and freedom for Conley, the younger of the Hawkins sisters, is obligation, burden, and like a prison for her older sister Grayson. This inevitably leads to conflicts and arguments in the course of the action.

The happy ending is predictable, and the issue of dementia leaves a distinct mark on the story. But the many wonderful dialogues and scenes with Grandmother Lorraine often made me laugh and were just lovely to read. This took the heaviness out of the dark background theme and presented me with a grandmother that I would have liked to have had too. Maybe not an absolute top novel, but perfect for a few entertaining hours on the beach, lake, or on the patio at home.

Happy reading

*Fischer TB kindly provided me this book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. Thank you. Therefore, the cover of the German edition is shown first in this review.

Deutsche Rezension

Ein angenehm zu lesender Roman, der das Thema Demenz als Hintergrundgeschichte hat. Die Autorin ging damit sehr feinfühlig und einfühlsam um. Und es wird denjenigen, die mit der Krankheit etwas vertraut sind aber auch schnell klar, dass viele Dinge im Roman und somit in den USA ganz anders sind als hierzulande. Trotzdem gibt es wunderschöne Szenen und Dialoge, die den Leser fesseln, begeistern, zum Lachen oder Schmunzeln bringen und mit dem Setting zusammen einfach nur Urlaubsfeeling erzeugen. Gut, der Plot an sich ist jetzt nicht neu und an einigen Stellen im Buch hatte ich das Gefühl, das alles schon mal gelesen zu haben, aber dennoch, die Autorin  versteht es, ihre Leser mitzunehmen und mit der Figur der Großmutter Lorraine hat sie einen absoluten Volltreffer gelandet. Mary Kay Andrews zeigt die Konflikte und die Anspannung mit einem einfach zu lesenden Schreibstil und der Verwendung von absolut passenden Worten. Und arbeitet sich damit zu einem ungewöhnlichen Happy End durch. Zumindest habe ich es so empfunden.

Auch in diesem Roman geht es um eine Familie, die ihre guten und schlechten Zeiten durchlaufen hat. Wo der Familiensegen nicht immer gerade hängt und die Vergangenheit es den Töchtern Conley und Grayson nicht einfacher macht, mit sich selbst und dem Familienunternehmen durchs Leben zu navigieren.

Was für Conley, die Jüngere der Hawkins Schwestern, Leidenschaft und Freiheit bedeutet, ist für ihre ältere Schwester Grayson Verpflichtung, Last und wie ein Gefängnis. Das führt im Handlungsverlauf zwangsläufig zu Konflikten und Auseinandersetzungen.

Das Happy End ist vorhersehbar, und das Thema Demenz hinterlässt eine deutliche Spur in der Geschichte. Aber die vielen herrlichen Dialoge und Szenen mit Großmutter Lorraine haben mich oft zum Lachen gebracht und waren einfach nur schön zu lesen. Das hat dem dunklen Hintergrundthema die Schwere genommen und mir eine Großmutter präsentiert, die ich auch gerne gehabt hätte. Vielleicht kein absoluter Top-Roman, aber für ein paar unterhaltsame Stunden am Strand, See, oder der heimischen Terrasse perfekt geeignet.

**The book was originally published by St. Martin´s Press on May 5, 2020.

Mary Kay Andrews
Mary Kay Andrews ©Bill Miles

Mary Kay Andrews grew up in Florida and lives now with her family in Atlanta, Georgia. During the summer you will find her in her holiday residence on Tybee Island, a wonderful island just off the coast of Georgia. She is a former reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and since her bestseller Summer Rental she is considered a guarantor for the perfect holiday experience.


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