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  • Summer Sisters
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A Novel

Written by Judy BlumeAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Judy Blume

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List Price: $7.99

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On Sale: December 16, 2009
Pages: | ISBN: 978-0-307-57524-1
Published by : Delta Bantam Dell
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ABOUT THE BOOK ABOUT THE BOOK
ABOUT THE AUTHOR ABOUT THE AUTHOR
PRAISE PRAISE
READER'S GUIDE READER'S GUIDE
Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

In the summer of 1977, Victoria Leonard’s world changes forever when Caitlin Somers chooses her as a friend. Dazzling, reckless Caitlin welcomes Vix into the heart of her sprawling, eccentric family, opening doors to a world of unimaginable privilege, sweeping her away to vacations on Martha’s Vineyard, an enchanting place where the two friends become “summer sisters.”

Now, years later, Vix is working in New York City. Caitlin is getting married on the Vineyard. And the early magic of their long, complicated friendship has faded. But Caitlin begs Vix to come to her wedding, to be her maid of honor. And Vix knows that she will go—because Vix wants to understand what happened during that last shattering summer. And, after all these years, she needs to know why her best friend—her summer sister—still has the power to break her heart.

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From the Trade Paperback edition.

Excerpt

Prologue
Summer 1990

The city is broiling in an early summer heat wave and for the third day in a row Victoria buys a salad from the Korean market around the corner and has lunch at her desk. Her roommate, Maia, tells her she's risking her life eating from a salad bar. If the bacteria don't get you, the preservatives will. Victoria considers this as she chomps on a carrot and scribbles notes to herself on an upcoming meeting with a client who's looking for a PR firm with an edge. Everyone wants edge these days. You tell them it's edgy, they love it.

When the phone rings she grabs it, expecting a call from the segment producer at Regis and Kathie Lee. "This is Victoria Leonard," she says, sounding solid and professional.

"Vix?"

She's surprised to hear Caitlin's voice on the other end and worries for a minute it's bad news, because Caitlin calls only at night, usually late, often waking her from a deep sleep. Besides, it's been a couple of months since they've talked at all.

"You have to come up," Caitlin says. She's using her breathy princess voice, the one she's picked up in Europe, halfway between Jackie O's and Princess Di's. "I'm getting married at Lamb's house on the Vineyard."

"Married?"

"Yes. And you have to be my Maid of Honor. It's only appropriate, don't you think?"

"I guess that depends on who you're marrying."

"Bru," Caitlin answers, and suddenly she sounds like herself again. "I'm marrying Bru. I thought you knew."

Victoria forces herself to swallow, to breathe, but she feels clammy and weak anyway. She grabs the cold can of Diet Coke from the corner of her desk and holds it against her forehead, then moves it to her neck, as she jots down the date and time of the wedding. She doodles all around it while Caitlin chats, until the whole page is filled with arrows, crescent moons, and triangles, as if she's back in sixth grade.

"Vix?"  Caitlin says. "Are you still there?  Do we have a bad connection or what?"

"No, it's okay."

"So you'll come?"

"Yes."  The second she hangs up she makes a mad dash for the women's room where she pukes her guts out in the stall. She has to call Caitlin back, tell her there's no way she can do this. What can Caitlin be thinking?  What was she thinking when she agreed?

Four weeks later Caitlin, her hair flying in the wind, meets Victoria at the tiny Vineyard airport. Victoria is the last one to step out of the commuter from LaGuardia. She'd spotted Caitlin from her window as soon as they'd landed but felt glued to her seat. It's been more than two years since they've seen each other, and three since Victoria graduated from college and got caught up in real life--a job, with just two weeks vacation a year. No money to fly around. Bummer, as Lamb would say when they were kids.

"Going on to Nantucket with us?"  the flight attendant asks and suddenly Victoria realizes she's the only passenger still on the plane. Embarrassed, she grabs her bag and hustles down the steps onto the tarmac. Caitlin finds her in the crowd and waves frantically. Victoria heads toward her, shaking her head because Caitlin is wearing a T-shirt that says simplify, simplify, simplify. She's barefoot as usual and Victoria is betting her feet will be as dirty as they were that first summer.

Caitlin holds her at arm's length for a minute. "God, Vix . . ."  she says, "you look so . . . grown up!"  They both laugh, then Caitlin hugs her. She smells of seawater, suntan lotion, and something else. Victoria closes her eyes, breathing in the familiar scent, and for a moment it's as if they've never been apart. They're still Vixen and Cassandra, summer sisters forever. The rest is a mistake, a crazy joke.


From the Hardcover edition.
Judy Blume

About Judy Blume

Judy Blume - Summer Sisters

Photo © Sigrid Estrada

Judy Blume spent her childhood in Elizabeth, New Jersey, making up stories inside her head. She has spent her adult years in many places doing the same thing, only now she writes her stories down on paper. Adults as well as children will recognize such Blume titles as: Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret; Blubber; Just as Long as We're Together; and the five book series about the irrepressible Fudge. She has also written three novels for adults, Summer Sisters; Smart Women; and Wifey, all of them New York Times bestsellers. More than 80 million copies of her books have been sold, and her work has been translated into thirty-one languages. She receives thousands of letters a year from readers of all ages who share their feelings and concerns with her.

Judy received a B.S. in education from New York University in 1961, which named her a Distinguished Alumna in 1996, the same year the American Library Association honored her with the Margaret A. Edwards Award for Lifetime Achievement. In 2004 she received the National Book Foundation's Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.

She is the founder and trustee of The Kids Fund, a charitable and educational foundation. She serves on the boards of the Author's Guild; the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators; the Key West Literary Seminar; and the National Coalition Against Censorship.

Judy is a longtime advocate of intellectual freedom. Finding herself at the center of an organized book banning campaign in the 1980's she began to reach out to other writers, as well as teachers and librarians, who were under fire. Since then, she has worked tirelessly with the National Coalition Against Censorship to protect the freedom to read. She is the editor of Places I Never Meant To Be, Original Stories by Censored Writers.

Judy recently completed the final book in a series of four books for young readers, illustrated by New Yorker cartoonist James Stevenson which was published in May, 2009. The first, Soupy Saturdays with the Pain & the Great One, was published in September, 2007. The second, Cool Zone with the Pain & the Great One, was issued in May and Going, Going, Gone! with the Pain & the Great One, her third book in this series, was published August 12, 2008.

Judy and her husband George Cooper live on islands up and down the east coast. They have three grown children and one grandchild.
Praise

Praise

“Compulsively readable . . . [Blume’s] powers are prodigious.”—The New York Times Book Review

“As warm as a summer breeze blowing through your hair, as nostalgic as James Taylor singing ‘How Sweet It Is.’ You remember. So does Judy Blume. How sweet it was.”—Chicago Tribune

An exceptionally moving story that can leave the reader laughing and crying . . . sometimes at the same time. . . . Blume creates a rich tapestry of characters.”—The Denver Post
 
“Blume’s characters still tend to hover after the book is set aside. . . . She catches perfectly the well-armored love between longtime female friends.”—The Seattle Times
Discussion Questions

Discussion Guides

1. Do you see more of your personality in the character of Victoria ("Vix&") or Caitlin? Why? Do you see parallels in your relationships with your friends? Have you ever known a "Caitlin?" You might start by remembering best friends and what they've meant to you.

2. What is it about Vix that leads Caitlin to befriend her in the first place? That allows the friendship to flourish? What does Vix get from her friendship with Caitlin? What does Caitlin get from Vix? And what do each of them give?

3.
What do you see as the source of the lasting bond between Vix and Cailtin? Why and how do they remain so close even as they grow apart and lead different lives? How do their expectations of each other change? Do you see similarities in your own long-term friendships? In what ways have they changed over time?

4. After Caitlin talks to Vix about Phoebe, Vix thinks, "You weren't always born to the right parents. And parents didn't necessarily get the kids they were meant to raise" (p. 98). Do you think Vix was thinking of her own parents, or Caitlin's? What does this say about how she feels about both sets of parents? Do you agree?

5. How did Vix's relationship with Abby and Lamb affect her relationship with her own family? How much different would her life have been if she hadn't developed such a strong bond with Caitlin's family? Would Vix have broken away from her background on her own, without her friendship with Caitlin?

6. How much do you think their respective backgrounds shaped Vix and Caitlin? Do you think their essential characters would have been the same if their situations had been reversed? How do you think each would have operated in the world under reversed circumstances?

7. Could there ever have been a future for Vix and Bru? Was their breakup inevitable? Could she have married him and still fulfilled herself? Do you see any parallels between their relationship and your own first love?

8. Why does Caitlin pursue and marry Bru? What attracts her to the idea of settling down and having a child? Is this something you think she deliberately set out to do or did it just happen?

9. How can Vix forgive Caitlin for marrying Bru? When Caitlin abandons her daughter? When she disappears from their lives? Why doesn't Vix ask more questions about Caitlin's life away from her? Do you think she should have ended the friendship because of any of these events?

10. Judy Blume uses an unusual technique in her novel, allowing readers to get into the minds of many characters, yet she never allows us inside Caitlin. Why?

11. What drew you to each character? With which characters did you most sympathize? Which did you find less sympathetic? Why?

12. Was the ending inevitable or tragic? Are you able to agree on what really happened? How do you feel about the ambiguity of the ending?

12. Was the ending inevitable or tragic? Are you able to agree on what really happened? How do you feel about the ambiguity of the ending?




From the Paperback edition.

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