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Book Review

Rachel Cullen’s latest book, “The Last Summer Girl,” takes the reader by the hand to show intimately the winding and sometimes painful path to family reconciliation.

Jealousy and misunderstanding between sisters Jennifer and Lynn Summer have barely kept a veneer of civility in their terse communications over the past several years. The death of their father brings Lynn back from California to Winnetka.

After the funeral and at the reading of their father’s will, they learn they will share their inheritance with Courtney, a half-sister born while their mother, a victim of Alzheimer’s disease, was still alive.

Courtney inherits a third of the considerable estate of a father she never knew, and she gets two warring half-sisters to boot. For their part, Jen and Lynn find their anger toward each other compounded by what they see as a betrayal of their mother by their father.

And there are men – Jen’s husband, Mark; Lynn’s ex-husband, Trevor, and others; and Courtney’s friend Preston.

Each chapter gives a first-person account of where things stand as the sisters sometimes give into and sometimes try to overcome their feelings of anger, betrayal, and jealousy. The story recounts the recriminations, attempts at reconciliation, backsliding and ultimate understanding.   

Ms. Cullen graduated from Northwestern University with Honors in Religious Studies, and readers will see a some concrete references to the University and to Evanston.

Kirkus reviews says the book is “a provocative read about love and forgiveness.”