The Summer That Made Us by Robyn Carr

The Summer That Made Us

Mothers and daughters, sisters and cousins--they lived for summers at the lake house until a tragic accident changed everything. The Summer That Made Us is an unforgettable story about a family learning to accept the past, to forgive and to love each other again. That was then... For the Hempsteads, two sisters who married two brothers and had three daughters each, summe...

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The Summer That Made Us Reviews

  • Dawn ♥ romance

    This story was really chick-lit with a touch of romance that just pulled me in with all the dysfunctional people and relationships. I so like Robyn Carr's style of writing that feels like constant motion even when characters reminisce. Charley just lost her job and her cousin Megan who is battling cancer asks for help to spend the summer at their childhood vacation lake house.

  • Jonetta

    Charlene (Charley) Hempstead is suddenly facing big changes in her life after her successful, long-running national talk show is canceled. Her younger sister, Megan (Meg) is fighting a tough battle with breast cancer and wants to return to their family’s lake house at Lake Waseba, Minnesota for the summer. She’s also inviting her cousins and their mothers, who haven’t spoken to each other in years. They all used to spend every summer at the lake until a tragic

    Charlene (Charley) Hempstead is suddenly facing big changes in her life after her successful, long-running national talk show is canceled. Her younger sister, Megan (Meg) is fighting a tough battle with breast cancer and wants to return to their family’s lake house at Lake Waseba, Minnesota for the summer. She’s also inviting her cousins and their mothers, who haven’t spoken to each other in years. They all used to spend every summer at the lake until a tragic event fractured the family 27 years ago. Will they show up and if they do, can this highly dysfunctional family overcome their differences to restore the closeness they once shared?

    This was a fascinating story with every level of conflict represented. Charley is at sea now that her self-defining career is stalled and the man she’s lived with for over 20 years suddenly proposes. And, she’s barely on speaking terms with her prickly mother. Her cousins, sisters Krista, Hope and Beverly, haven’t spoken to each other in years. Their mother, Jo, hasn’t had a real relationship with her sister and Charley’s mother, Lou, since that last trip to the lake. I won’t spoil the story by giving you more details but suffice it to say this was one strange brew. There are so many layers to the story, the characters and the events that happened at the last lake visit. There’s a LOT going on but Carr effectively weaves them together to create a compelling narrative using many voices.

    I loved this story and wished we could see more of this family. But, deep down, I’m very satisfied to end where it did. This was one I had a tough time putting down and is contemporary fiction at its finest as family dynamics are explored in such a relevant way.

    (I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review)

  • Susan

    The Summer That Made Us

    Robyn Carr

    Received from Netgalley

    Wow, what an emotional rollercoaster THE SUMMER THAT MADE US had me on. Megan has one crazy family and wants them all to get together one more summer at their lake house. Megan has cancer and she wants to try to get the family back as a whole like the good old days. It's been almost thirty years and Megan feels like it's time to let go of the past and be a family again. When I tell you this family is blistered, fractured, and blown to piece

    The Summer That Made Us

    Robyn Carr

    Received from Netgalley

    Wow, what an emotional rollercoaster THE SUMMER THAT MADE US had me on. Megan has one crazy family and wants them all to get together one more summer at their lake house. Megan has cancer and she wants to try to get the family back as a whole like the good old days. It's been almost thirty years and Megan feels like it's time to let go of the past and be a family again. When I tell you this family is blistered, fractured, and blown to pieces, you will have to take my word for it. As you read THE SUMMER THAT MADE US you will begin to feel the same way.

    For the Hempstead family, two sisters marry two brothers. Each family has three girls and they have them in six years. They go to the lake house every summer the day after school gets out and stay there until Labor Day. Life is good, they are all happy until the one summer when tragedy strikes. A young girl drowns and their lives will never be the same. The lake house is boarded up never to be used again. One by me, each of the daughters is broken. The sisters, Louise, and Jo don't talk anymore and they were best of friends. Once I started reading THE SUMMER THAT MADE US I was instantly hooked. I felt as if I were right there with all of these women, stressing everything they were going through.

    The twists and turns in THE SUMMER THAT MADE US will have you staying up late just to read one more page. Before you know it, you have read three more chapters. Don't you love when an author has that kind of power over you? I sure do and that why I always run to Robyn Carr's books. She never fails to pull on my heart strings and never disappoints. By the time I finished, I had a huge lump in my throat, tears streaming down, and a stupid smile on my face. THE SUMMER THAT MADE US is filled with family, forgiveness, love, grief, and letting go of the past.

    One by one, the women return to their summer cottage and stories are shared, events and good times remembered, and slowly they become a family again. Who could ask for anything more?

  • ♥Rachel♥

    Robyn Carr weaves an engrossing tale of family bonds, hurt, betrayal and tragedy that touched me deeply!

    At the center of the story is Meg and Charlie, sisters enduring their own crisis’, but Meg’s is more urgent. She’s been battling cancer for four long years and just had a bone marrow transplant after chemo and needs to recuperate. Her prognosis is not good, and Charlie wants to be there for Meg in whatever way she can. Life gave Charlie a great opportunity, freed up her time, because she just

    Robyn Carr weaves an engrossing tale of family bonds, hurt, betrayal and tragedy that touched me deeply!

    At the center of the story is Meg and Charlie, sisters enduring their own crisis’, but Meg’s is more urgent. She’s been battling cancer for four long years and just had a bone marrow transplant after chemo and needs to recuperate. Her prognosis is not good, and Charlie wants to be there for Meg in whatever way she can. Life gave Charlie a great opportunity, freed up her time, because she just lost her job as a talk show host, and has no idea what to do next. Add to that Charlie’s long-time committed man (they’ve been together for twenty-years) has just proposed marriage and for some odd reason this rattles Charlie. Meg’s wish is to go to the lake house, a place that holds some of their fondest memories, but a place where tragedy changed their lives forever. Meg and Charlie’s little sister, Bunny, drowned and their mother and aunt parted ways in an ugly way. For twenty-seven years neither family has been back, but that’s about to change.

    Spending time at the lake house will stir up drama, but it’s Meg’s wish, and who can deny a woman what is most likely her dying wish? To get to the heart of why everything went to hell they must travel back with their memories to the time when their mothers: Louise and Josephine, (sisters who married brothers) would take them out to Lake Waseka those summers long ago. Was Bunny’s death the only reason for their estrangement or was it something more?

    I loved this story sooo much! It made me cry, stirring up so many emotions! It sounds like a lot is going on, but it’s not hard to follow as a reader. I loved the sister dynamic between Meg and Charlie, they’re so very close, but Krista, Josephine’s daughter, and Meg and Charlie’s cousin quickly bonded with them again after so many years apart. Krista had a hard life, but managed to see the positive, and I adored her little slow burn romance that was unexpected, but so sweet for her!

    Charlie has basically a marriage-in-crisis sort of situation even though she’s not technically married, her relationship is at odds and I so wanted her to work it out, because Michael was the best kind of man! Meg was just so centered and at peace with her situation, she just broke my heart, though!

    Louise, Meg and Charlie’s mom, and Hope, Josephine’s daughter, are also notable characters, but not in a good way. I was stunned and shocked by their behavior, but also less upset with them by the end, as details of their lives are revealed. Each and every character, flaws and all came to life; felt realistic they were crafted so well.

    The Lake Wasuka house and location was vividly depicted, and sounded gorgeous! I could smell the pine and wood of the forest, feel the breeze coming off the lake and wish that I was there with Meg, Charlie and Krista having a glass of wine on the porch!

    was a beautiful and intricate story of family and love that took my breath away!

  • Sherri Thacker

    That Summer that Made Us is the perfect summer read!! This is my 3rd book by Robyn Carr and as with all the others, I enjoyed this book very much! Family feuds, an accidental drowning, a lot of drama, an ex-convict, all makings for a great dysfunctional family in a book. This one fit the bill!! I want to read other Robyn Carr books because I really enjoy her writing style!

  • Debra

    The Summer that made us didn't quite make it with me.

    I have read most or Robyn Carr's books and this one is my least favorite of all of them. For some reason I didn't find myself as absorbed in the story. The premise is good. A family spent their summers at their summer home. They were happy and enjoyed each other's company. Then one summer everything changed. A young girl tragically drowned and the summer home was boarded up for what they believed would be for good. That summer changed their l

    The Summer that made us didn't quite make it with me.

    I have read most or Robyn Carr's books and this one is my least favorite of all of them. For some reason I didn't find myself as absorbed in the story. The premise is good. A family spent their summers at their summer home. They were happy and enjoyed each other's company. Then one summer everything changed. A young girl tragically drowned and the summer home was boarded up for what they believed would be for good. That summer changed their lives for many reasons. Relationships became strained, distant and at times painful.

    In the present day the family members are dealing with various personal issues - illness, relationship issues, family drama,etc. The family members agree to return to their summer lake home to re-connect, deal with their past and reunite in the present.

    This book deals with death, illness (cancer & dementia), teenage pregnancy, adoption, love, family, forgiveness and relationships. Great themes and they usually would draw me in. I found that I just didn't connect entirely with this book. I devoured her other books but this was was just okay at best for me. Her writing continues to be strong and she continues to write about real issues, this one just did not grab me as her other books have done. I'm actually sad about this because as I mentioned I am a Carr far - her Virgin River series being my favorite. As a whole she is a wonderful Author. I believe most will really enjoy this book by her as well. It just didn't WOW me as her others have done. Still a fan!

    I received a copy of this book from Harlequin and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

    See more of my reviews at

  • Wendy

    Once again, it is easy to see why Robyn Carr is one of my favourite authors!

    The Summer That Made Us is a very touching story of mothers, daughters, sisters and cousins.

    Every summer was spent at the lake house until a tragic accident changed everything. The lake house was then closed for good. Many years later, one woman is determined to bring her family back together again. She sets out to make this happen at the lake house, to face the truth with no more secrets and lies.

    A beautifully written u

    Once again, it is easy to see why Robyn Carr is one of my favourite authors!

    The Summer That Made Us is a very touching story of mothers, daughters, sisters and cousins.

    Every summer was spent at the lake house until a tragic accident changed everything. The lake house was then closed for good. Many years later, one woman is determined to bring her family back together again. She sets out to make this happen at the lake house, to face the truth with no more secrets and lies.

    A beautifully written unforgettable story!

    Thank you to NetGalley and Mira Books for an arc of this novel.

  • Siobhan

    Earlier this year, I read Robyn Carr’s Any Day Now. It was the second book in the Sullivan’s Crossing series and I was instantly left wanting to read more of the author’s work. The Summer That Made Us is the result of that desire.

    In all honesty, I did not enjoy The Summer That Made Us as much as I enjoyed Any Day Now. Both of the books are deeply emotional reads, yet I found myself more connected with the characters in Any Day Now than I was with the characters in The Summer That Made Us. In all

    Earlier this year, I read Robyn Carr’s Any Day Now. It was the second book in the Sullivan’s Crossing series and I was instantly left wanting to read more of the author’s work. The Summer That Made Us is the result of that desire.

    In all honesty, I did not enjoy The Summer That Made Us as much as I enjoyed Any Day Now. Both of the books are deeply emotional reads, yet I found myself more connected with the characters in Any Day Now than I was with the characters in The Summer That Made Us. In all honesty, I believe I can explain why this is – but I’ll save that until later in the review. I’ll start by explaining my general feelings.

    It took me a few chapters to fall into the story of The Summer That Made Us. I had a similar experience with Any Day Now, and with this being my second Robyn Carr book, I’m thinking such may be the norm for the author’s work. For me, it took me a while as I felt like the start of the book was made up of a lot of information dumps. There is a lot to understand about the dynamics of the characters and the family, meaning there is a lot of information to be provided. I simply felt, at first, information was thrown in excess. Once all of the information has been shared, the book starts to move faster – but I would have liked for this to have started happening sooner.

    Once the story is moving, so many connections come into play. There is so much to be known about all of the characters. There really is a lot happen throughout this one. Secrets are found in the background of all of the characters, more information waiting to be revealed. On top of all these secrets we’re begging to understand, we also have a deeply emotional read. There is so much to deal with – cancer, marital problems, prison, teenage pregnancy, mental health, loss, and so much more. Every character brings something to the story, leaving you intrigued as to where things will go, whilst falling into the deeply emotional family story.

    As I found with Any Day Now, the characters were wonderfully realistic. Each brought something different to the table, and we got to experience so much. I enjoyed some of the storylines more than others, but everything came together really well. You get to experience so much throughout this one, taking you on the wild journey of family life.

    Despite the deep emotional pull of the story, I wasn’t as lost to it as I had hoped to be. This is why I gave the story a three star rating rather than a four. In truth, it is more of a three-point-five read. With all the emotions at the end of the book I considered giving the four star rating, but I spent more time closer to the three star rating throughout the rest of the book.

    The reason for this is more of a personal preference than something everyone will dislike. I’m the kind of person who prefers to follow just a couple of characters throughout a book. With this one, we followed so many different storylines. I never quite lost myself to all of the storylines, finding myself rather disinterested when we were focusing upon certain characters. Whilst I understand the necessity of this within such a story – it is necessary to understand all of the connections within the book – I would have preferred it had we not been flickering between characters within a chapter. I’m much fonder of one chapter following one character, the next following another, and so on when I’m reading a book with multiple characters being central.

    Overall, however, this was an enjoyable read. It was deeply emotional, and I’m still willing to read more of the author’s work.

  • Amy

    4.5/5

    Wow this book was such an emotional read, way more than I was expecting it to be! There were highs and lows, ups and downs and I loved every minute of getting to know the dysfunctional Hempstead family. When I say dysfunctional I’m not even sure that word accurately describes things, this is a family steeped in tragedy going all the way back to the summer of ’89 and to say the events of that fateful summer messed them all up something fierce is putting it mildly.

    Megan’s dying wish is to reu

    4.5/5

    Wow this book was such an emotional read, way more than I was expecting it to be! There were highs and lows, ups and downs and I loved every minute of getting to know the dysfunctional Hempstead family. When I say dysfunctional I’m not even sure that word accurately describes things, this is a family steeped in tragedy going all the way back to the summer of ’89 and to say the events of that fateful summer messed them all up something fierce is putting it mildly.

    Megan’s dying wish is to reunite her shattered family. At one point they were all super close and twenty seven years later most of them hardly speak at all. Jo and Lou are sisters who married brothers and they each had three daughters. They spent magical summers at their family lake house and life was pretty damn perfect for those summer months. When the youngest child, Bunny drowns the family is completely broken. Jo and Lou don’t speak and the daughters all mostly went their separate ways as well. Twenty seven years later and they’re back, for better or worse.

    What makes Carr’s books standouts for me is her phenomenal characterization. Almost immediately I find myself invested and engrossed in the lives of her characters and this may be my favorite book of hers to date. I can’t even pick a favorite one here because they were all so real and raw, but Megan definitely wormed her way into my heart. I also really liked Krista, she is fresh out of prison after serving twenty five years and she was just such a unique women’s fiction character with her own type of spunk.

    The plot mostly focused on repairing the families fractured relationships while slowly revealing secrets from the past and there were quite a few doozies. I’m always fascinated by complex families and hidden stories and there were so many here. There was one little twist that I totally didn’t see coming, twists in women’s fiction always through me for a loop because I’m not waiting on the edge of my seat for them like in a thriller.

    Despite it being a highly evocative read it’s still very much a lighter read with substance. Carr’s trademark charm and easy writing style is in full effect making the perfect combination for a late summer read.

    All of my reviews can be found on

  • ☕ Kimberly

    Carr has brought us a delightful multi-generational tale with fully developed and realistic characters.  Louise and Jo Hempstead married brothers, one dependable the other charismatic and flighty. They each had three daughters and spent their summers at their parent's lake house. It was a lovely, carefree time and I envied them their escape from reality. 

    Charlene "Charley," loses her job and decides to spend the summer with her sister Meg, who is fighting stage four cancer. Meg wants to spend th

    Carr has brought us a delightful multi-generational tale with fully developed and realistic characters.  Louise and Jo Hempstead married brothers, one dependable the other charismatic and flighty. They each had three daughters and spent their summers at their parent's lake house. It was a lovely, carefree time and I envied them their escape from reality. 

    Charlene "Charley," loses her job and decides to spend the summer with her sister Meg, who is fighting stage four cancer. Meg wants to spend the summer at Lake Waseka, and Charley agrees to open the house, make repairs and have it ready for June. Through flashbacks and discussions, we learn about the last tragic summer spent at the lake house.  The reader along with Meg and Charley,  soon realize it was something more than the tragedy that ended those magical summers and pulled the families apart. We meet sisters, Jo and Louise and discover their secrets. Unbeknownst to Charley, Meg invites everyone back for the summer, and slowly they trickle in.

    Carr introduces us to all of the siblings and cousins sharing their backstory and current situations.  The characters were rich and complex as Carr shed light on the complications of family, misunderstands, preconceived notions and stubbornness. It is so funny how we rehash mistakes and pigeon-hole family members. We can be so stubborn and unforgiving. Carr captured all the complexities of a family from the heartwarming to the cruel allowing readers to identify, feel, and relate to these characters.

    There was an air of suspense stitched with sadness that kept me reading. Carr's series are delightful but I have often felt her stand alone novels weren't for me. However,  I was drawn to this title and I am so glad that I read their story. It touched my heart and is the perfect end of summer read.

    Raw, emotional, heartwarming and at times humorous THE SUMMER THAT MADE US, delivered a family story that will touch even the coldest of hearts.

    Copy provided by the publisher.

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