So y'all know that we're all about our girlfriends. We consider many of them like family and cherish the friendships we've had for years. And that's probably why we're a sucker for any book about besties! So when we came across Deborah Cloyed's novel, The Summer We Came to Life, we knew we just had to read it. It's about a group of lifelong friends who come together after a tragedy. It's a thought-provoking read about friendship, life, and death that we think you'll love.
Every summer, Samantha Wheland joins her childhood friends—Isabel, Kendra and Mina—on a vacation, somewhere exotic and fabulous. Together with their mixed bag of parents, they've created a lifetime of memories. This year it's a beach house in Honduras. But for the first time, their clan is not complete. Mina lost her battle against cancer six months ago, and the friends she left behind are still struggling to find their way forward without her.
For Samantha, the vacation just feels wrong without Mina. Despite being surrounded by her friends—the closest thing she has to family—Mina's death has left Sam a little lost. Unsure what direction her life should take. Fearful that whatever decision she makes about her wealthy French boyfriend's surprise proposal, it'll be the wrong one.
The answers aren't in the journal Mina gave Sam before she died. Or in the messages Sam believes Mina is sending as guideposts. Before the trip ends, the bonds of friendship with her living friends, the older generation's stories of love and loss, and Sam's glimpse into a world far removed from the one in which she belongs will convince her to trust her heart. And follow it.
Is it up your alley? Then leave a comment and you'll be entered to win one of FIVE copies! We'll choose the winners randomly Sunday July 24th after 6pm PST.
And we're super stoked that she's sharing her 5 Do's and a Do-Over with us today!
CHICK LIT IS NOT DEAD PRESENTS...DEBORAH CLOYED'S 5 DO'S AND A DO-OVER
1. Do Ignore ‘It can’t be Done’s”. If I had a dollar for every time I heard “You can’t move to Thailand. You can’t go to Barcelona without a place to stay.” “It isn’t safe for a woman to travel alone in Africa.” “Writing is a great skill for when you become a lawyer, honey.” You get the idea. If you want a life just like everybody else’s, by all means listen to the peanut gallery. If you want your own life, listen to your heart, to the dream that won’t go away, to the image of a place that makes your heart soar like a kite on a breeze. Cross your fingers and jump.
2. Do It Before You’re Ready. Our dreams are precious to us. And therefore scary. We want to ensure we don’t fail or, worse yet, make complete idiots out of ourselves. Why do we get so paralyzed at the thought of goofing up? Guess what – you will. And everybody that went before you that wasn’t taking over the family business or the kid of a celebrity or on a clear path like becoming a dentist – didn’t know what the hell they were doing either. Mostly people will think it’s endearing. Some people will make fun of you. Do you really care? When mean people are mean, it very rarely has anything to do with you. Take a deep breath and learn to laugh at yourself and your gaffes, before it’s too late.
3. Do Good in the World. Ironically, we spend our whole lives trying to figure out what will make ourselves truly happy and you know what’s the only surefire route? Helping others in need. And I don’t necessarily mean shipping off to Africa. It can also mean smiling at the checkout lady, over tipping your cab driver, making a child laugh, cheering up a coworker.
4. Do Ask Questions. Curiosity is the number one thing that keeps you alive. It may be the definition of being alive. You can be sitting in the DMV, riding on a chicken bus through Central America, or eating French fries at McDonald’s. Asking questions about the world around you is what makes you grow. I asked my Methodist preacher what he thought about Buddha. I asked my parents about racism in the 60’s in Virginia. I asked a deaf friend what he ‘hears’ while he’s talking/signing. I asked a Kenyan woman living in the hut next door why she was okay with polygamy. I have gotten myself into more trouble than you can imagine asking questions, but everything I think I know about the human heart and spirit, I know by asking.
5. Do Give Yourself A Break. Ideally, you want to always do the best you can, nothing more nothing less, just your best - which is not in the same vicinity of being perfect. You will never be the perfect friend, girlfriend, chef, caretaker, writer, boss, employee, and political pundit all at the same time all the time. But if you do your best, which is obviously crappy when you’re sick or got the blues, then you should be able to give yourself a break, not be so darn hard on yourself all the time. If you figure out how to do this, please let me know.
Do over’s are tough, because I’m not big on chalking things up as regrettable. I prefer the term “learning experience.” The lead singer everyone told me not to touch with a ten-foot pole? Learning experience. The snarky, know it all memoir you write in your twenties that thank god will never be published? Very valuable learning experience. Going over a waterfall in a de-regulation raft with a 15-year old guide and nearly dying? Idiotic, very, very valuable life learning experience.
As a self-assured sixteen-year-old reading Kafka and dressing like Jack Kerouac, I grandiosely proclaimed that where you are now can only be as a result of all the people and experiences leading up to it, and therefore regretting where you’ve been is akin to regretting who you are.
Turns out I got one thing right when I was sixteen.
I do believe that our consciousness draws things to us good or bad, so we should strive for positivity and right action, but there are no do over’s. There is choice and there is destiny and there is the incredible power of the human spirit that let’s us label what others might mistake for a mistake a brilliant gift, a.k.a. the ‘learning experience.’
Unless of course, you’re a character in my novel The Summer We Came to Life . . . ;-)
Thanks Deborah! xoxo, L&L