Summer People: A Novel
Release Date: August 28, 2007
Nathan Empson has just accepted the most unusual summer job of his life. In exchange for serving as a “caretaker” for Ellen Broderick, the eccentric matriarch of an exclusive coastal community, he’ll earn a generous paycheck and gain access to one of the last bastions of old New England wealth. But not everyone in town is welcoming—or even civil. And while he discovers companionship with a philosophical, ex-punk Episcopalian pastor, and more than companionship with the alluring nanny to the pastor’s children, Nathan finds it increasingly difficult to ignore his employer’s unnerving behavior. With each escalating mishap, a new aspect of Ellen’s colorful past comes to light, exposing the secret lives of her old friends, flames, and enemies, as well as the story behind a scandalous incident Nathan must prevent her from repeating. Yet to sound the alarm about her condition would mean leaving his beachside oasis and the romance that may well change him forever.
The first hurdle in this book is believing that a wealthy family would hire, at the last minute, a 20-something loser son of their financial advisor to care for their mentally declining matriarch. I suppose it is possible (Groh claims the book stems from a real life experience), but it felt like a tremendous reach.
Groh may be a delightful storyteller, but he doesn’t really tell a story in Summer People. He relates a series of events that revolve around a group of thoroughly unlikable people. The main character is a selfish, juvenile, self-deluded drunk and he is one of the few that you almost care about.
The story never really builds and it certainly does not resolve. The summer ends and the story is over.
My verdict: Skip it. There are so many fantastic books to read, why waste your time on this flat take on the “coming of age” story?