cover image Last Summer

Last Summer

Holly Chamberlin. Kensington, $15 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-0-7582-3508-4

Friends are forever in this exploration of bullying—a troubling hot-button topic that comes into shocking focus here for two families torn apart by a heartless clique of mean girls. Sweet and sensitive Rosie, an only child, spirals into a dangerous depression and breakdown—including “cutting” and anorexia—after she’s targeted by a crew of nasty teens and then betrayed by best friend Meg, who blurts out an embarrassing secret to the bully pack. “Meg broke a solemn oath... I feel like dying,” Rosie confides in increasingly heartbreaking and frightening diary entries. The campaign of harassment also drives a painful wedge between the girls’ mothers, Jane and Frannie, who agonize over their children’s pain as well as their own damaged friendship. Even the rock-solid marriage of Rosie’s parents, Jane and Mike, begins to crack under the strain of the cruel harassment, as they both lie about their shared guilt. Chamberlin (Summer Friends) is pitch-perfect in her depiction of Rosie and Meg struggling to grow up, love, and forgive themselves and each other. But the rush to a happily-ever-after ending for everyone turns a thoughtful social commentary and tender narration of friendship and loyalty into a sticky-sweet after-school special. (July)