Summer Secrets Book Club Topics...

Spoiler Alert...      
You may want to avoid this page if you have not 
               finished reading Summer Secrets!

Summer Secrets delves into the themes of date rape and an inappropriate sexual relationship between a teenager and an adult. Sadly, these issues are splashed across headlines, somewhere in America, weekly if not daily. It was one of these headlines and the subsequent conversation with friends that gave me the idea for this novel. What if something like this happened to you or me?

 

There are no easy answers to these thought provoking issues. I encourage book clubs to use some of the discussion points outlined below. I would also like to hear about your dialog. Please use the contact page to let me your thoughts. I will do my best to respond to all inquiries.   Jen <3

The Situation...

Jason, at 16 years old, is having a sexual relationship with Karen, who is 26. As the secret is divulged Karen is shocked, she had no idea. Lauren wants to press charges, and David wants to smooth things over so the problem will disappear. Jason is horrified he was caught. 

  1. Put yourself in Lauren’s place, would you feel as if Karen’s actions were illegal?

  2. Is it rape?

  3. Can Jason, a minor, give consent?

  4. Now flip the gender of the participants, what if it is an underage girl and an adult man.

  5. How does that make the situation different? Now consider for a moment that girls mature earlier than boys at this age. Does this affect your opinion?

The Situation...

Audrey, a 14 year old girl, is given drugs at a party in a hayloft. The drugs affect her ability to protect herself or control the situation she finds herself in. Ultimately, she is raped by a large number of boys. When she gets home in the morning she does not tell her parents, choosing instead to keep the horrific events quiet.

  1. Why do you think Audrey unable/unwilling to tell her mother about the rape?

  2. How could Lauren not notice something was ‘wrong’ with Audrey?

  3. How bad must a relationship between a mother/daughter be in order to have fractured communication between them?

  4. Is it natural for 14 yr olds to hide this much from their mothers?

  5. How, as parents, do you prevent this exclusionary behavior and keep an open dialog with your teen?

The Situation...

Lauren takes the family to Michigan to create togetherness yet they immediately head off in separate directions. Lauren thinks about each individual and decides they are ‘happy’ because they were active. Reluctantly she agrees to the new summer plan giving up on her original idea.

  1. Is Lauren taking the easy way out by letting her family run off in different directions?

  2. Could any of the issues the family faced been handled better if she had insisted on sticking to her original plan?

  3. How could Lauren have prevented the children from getting into their situations in the first place?

The Situation...

While in Charlevoix, Lauren meets Rick, a man ten years younger than her. They are highly attracted to each other and very flirtatious. Towards the end of the summer, Rick admits he has fallen for Lauren. She is conflicted.

  1. What makes their relationship (which has the same age / gender balance as Jason and Karen) desirable despite the age difference?

  2. Lauren is married, why are we routing for Lauren and Rick’s relationship?

  3. Is cheating on a spouse frowned upon anymore or has it really become an accepted part of society?

  4. Do you respect Lauren for not following through on her desires or are you disappointed?

The Situation...

David’s parenting style could be described as ‘traditional’. He expects Lauren to take care of the house and kids while he goes to work. He wants to protect this balance at all costs and he makes some questionable decisions based on his priorities.

  1. Is David being disrespectful when he overrides Lauren and insists on handling Jason’s situation outside of the law?

  2. Knowing Lauren will never accept Karen’s baby as their grandchild... Is David’s justification for lying to Lauren about the pregnancy legitimate?

  3. Is there any argument for keeping the truth from Lauren regardless of her reaction?

  4. Considering David and Lauren’s relationship from start to finish, do you think he has been a good Husband?  Father?

The Situation...

The stress of Karen’s pregnancy is more than Lauren can handle. At first she tries to hide it from David and Jason. Later, in an explosive scene, the truth about the pregnancy comes out in a way that exposes Audrey’s situation and hints at Lauren’s potential unresolved feelings about Rick. The true depth of the family’s destruction is now evident.

  1. Knowing Lauren wanted Karen prosecuted for rape, is her visceral reaction to the pregnancy realistic?

  2. How would you handle this situation if Jason were your child?

  3. Would you react differently if it were your daughter who was pregnant?

  4. The confrontation between Audrey and Lauren was powerful. It revealed the true struggle between a young teen and her mother. How does a mother prevent that level of breakdown in communication while still giving a teen the independence he/she craves? 

The Situation...

Once the full scope of Audrey’s rape has been revealed. The family, with the help of Erin and Dr. Hawkins, must come to terms with how to proceed with school in the fall. Audrey has stated in no uncertain terms she is incapable of facing the boys who violated her. A plan is proposed where she would stay in Charlevoix, separated from her family, but with the team of women helping her to continue her healing.

Author's Note: This section was, by far, the hardest emotionally for me to write/edit. My family would come home to find me in tears on the couch. The kids would laugh “Mom’s working on Chapter 59 again.”
  1. Imagine a father/daughter relationship where a girl, on the cusp of womanhood has been subjected to this kind of horrific experience and kept quiet for months. How would he feel when the realization hits home? 

  2. Would he then “do anything” and allow his daughter to stay with ‘strangers’ in a unconventional school setting?

  3. Was there another choice?

  4. Would you have allowed Audrey to stay?

The Situation...

The book ends with a new beginning. Lauren is on a plane heading back to Michigan to join Audrey. The façade of 'the perfect marriage' is now completely destroyed with the realization David has been lying to her about Karen’s pregnancy. Lauren is now wondering what in her life is real and if there is anything salvageable in her marriage. Mostly, she is focused on her daughter and not in a rush to get caught up in a relationship with Rick even though she feels a strong attraction.

Author's Note:  This is where I want to hear from you. Are you satisfied with my ending? I’ve gotten many requests for a sequel and close friends asking me what happens with a particular character or situation. I would like you to use the comment section and send a message to me about your book club dialog. Tell me about the heated parts of your discussion and your questions. What parts of the book affected you the most? Who were your favorite characters and why? I’d love to talk to your book club about this book. I will respond to your messages.
                                                  Ready… go…  Jen <3 

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© 2016 by Jennifer Levine