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Literature / Summer Sisters

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Summer Sisters is an adult Coming of Age story by Judy Blume.

Victoria has no idea what to expect when Caitlin Somers invites her to spend the summer with her at Martha's Vineyard. Caitlin is rich, energetic and classy; Victoria comes from a family that can barely get by, with a mother whom has become a Broken Bird.

Tropes for this book include:

  • Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder: Bru with Victoria and Caitlin being off the island starts an affair with Star, the owner of the new vitamins store.
  • Abusive Parents:
    • Darlene to Tawny, Victoria's mother. Tawny is horrified when she catches herself slapping Victoria for applying to Harvard, repeating the cycle of abuse.
    • Ed had an abusive stepfamily. He got out of it as soon as he could by joining the army.
  • All Take and No Give: Zig-Zagged with Caitlin. While she does use people for her amusement, her sense of generosity allows Victoria to gain opportunities she otherwise would have lacked. Victoria says as much towards the end.
  • Amicable Exes:
    • Phoebe and Lamb, who share custody of Caitlin.
    • Averted with Tawny and Ed, Victoria's parents.
    • Zig-Zagged with Bru and Victoria.
  • Babies Ever After:
    • Bru and Caitlin have a baby girl. Bru goes on to have several more children with Star.
    • Victoria and Gus raise a boy named Nathan.
  • Benevolent Boss: The Countess to Tawny, even taking her on vacation after Nathan dies and leaving enough money to her to live on in Florida.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Victoria ends up as a successful PR agent and marries a man she loves, but Caitlin disappears and no one knows what's happened to her.
  • Broken Bird: Tawny, alternating with Abusive Parents.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Victoria to her mother when the latter accuses her of letting the Somers take over her life. Victoria makes a sharp point that her mother doesn't seem to care at all about her future, while at least the Somers do.
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  • Children Are Cruel: Lanie and her two kids are not the nicest people. Lanie as a teenager acts out, and gets pregnant before turning eighteen, while calling her father's new girlfriend a "cow" and hitting up on Victoria for money, thinking that she's rich and spending money on herself. Her children follow suit, which Victoria lampshades.
  • Cool Big Bro: Averted with Sharkey, Caitlin's older brother, and with Daniel, her step-brother.
  • Cool Big Sis: Victoria for Nathan. Subverted with her other siblings Lanie and Lewis.
  • Dead Guy Junior: Victoria names her son after Nathan, who dies early in the book.
  • Disappointed in You: Sharkey to Caitlin for not making anything of her life.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Tawny slaps Victoria for applying to Harvard and her Calling the Old Man Out moment.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Everyone in the Somers family except Sharkey is horrified that Caitlin leaves Maisie behind after divorcing Bru. Phoebe in particular notes that she didn't abandon either Caitlin or Sharkey.
  • Ignored Epiphany: Caitlin seems to give an accurate summary of the terrible things she's done when reuniting with Victoria for the latter's thirtieth birthday: abandoned her baby, stole Bru, and lied to Victoria about a lot of things. She plans to marry an Italian man who doesn't know about Maisie, and refuses to let Victoria ask any questions.
  • Ill Boy: Nathan, Victoria's brother, has muscular dystrophy. He dies from complications with pneumonia.
  • Ivy League for Everyone: Victoria beats the odds and gets accepted into Harvard, while Caitlin defers her acceptance to Wellesley to travel the world and Sharkey goes to Stanford.
  • Karma Houdini: Caitlin for all of her actions, including marrying Victoria's ex and leaving her child.
  • May–December Romance:
    • Caitlin has an affair with a married director.
    • Paisley flirts with an older man but nothing comes of it.
  • Neat Freak: Maia, Victoria's college and post-grad roommate. She's also mycophobic.
  • Parental Abandonment: Caitlin leaves Bru and their one-year old Maisie.
  • Raised by Grandparents: Lamb and his sister were raised by their grandmother after their parents died in a car crash As well as Caitlin's daughter Maisie after she abandons her.
  • Really Gets Around: Phoebe while traveling in the summer; Caitlin follows suit.
  • Surprise Pregnancy: Victoria's sister Lanie gets pregnant when she's only seventeen.
  • Teen Pregnancy: Lanie, to Maia's surprise.

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