Summerlong; Dean Bakopolus
ECCO - 2015
"There was another life that I might have had, but I am having this one" ---Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go
Summerlong begins with Don Lowry, a 38 year old real estate agent who is struggling to keep his wife Claire, and two young children afloat in the midst of the 2008 recession. One day while out taking his daily walk he sees a women sprawled out in the meadow and he isn't sure whether she is in trouble so goes to her rescue----an his trouble begins. Her name is Amelia Benitez-Coors (AKA --ABC).
ABC is sexy, beautiful and emotionally fragile. She a graduate of Grinnel College in Iowa where the story takes place, and is caring for an aging, pot-smoking woman by the name of Ruth Manetti. ABC is also contemplating suicide, but as the story progresses it's clear Don can't stay away from her.
Claire, Don's wife, is also 38, has her own issues. She met Don in college and fell in love. She misses NYC and has never adjusted to life in Iowa. A frustrated woman and former writer, she's lost her sense of self since moving to Iowa and having children. She's ripe for something or someone to put a spark back into her life.
Charlie Gulliver is an actor who has returned to Iowa to settle the affairs of his aging father. His father was a former professor and known womanizer at Grinnel. He also has eyes on both Claire and ABC.
Summerlong is a story about midlife, marriage, fidelity, aging and regrets. It's a story that will have some readers reassessing the strengths and weaknesses in their own relationships. I think it's a book that most readers will be able to relate to in some way.
The most interesting thing about this story was the way the author revealed the internal conflicts of each of the well-developed and memorable characters. I found myself feeling sorry for a few of the characters --even Claire, a sometimes neglectful mother who just lost her sense of self after marriage and children. Summerlong is well written, gives you plenty to think about and would make a great choice for book club discussions. Recommended.