June 4, 2023

Novel Lives

Book Publicity, Reviews, Author Interviews, and Discussion Posts by Susan Crosby

The Girls Of Summer By Katie Bishop Is An Eerie Thriller With Abuse Themes

The Girls Of Summer By Katie Bishop- Summary

Goodreads summary of The Girls of Summer by Katie Bishop (review with soft spoilers below)-

“That place has been my whole life. Everything I thought I knew about myself was constructed in those few months I spent within touching distance of the sea. Everything I am is because Alistair loved me.”

Rachel has been in love with Alistair for fifteen years, even though she’s now married to someone else. Even though she was a teenager when they met. Even though he is twenty years older than her.

Rachel and Alistair’s summer love affair on a remote, sun-trapped Greek island has consumed her since she was seventeen, obliterating everything in its wake. But as Rachel becomes increasingly obsessed with reliving the events of so long ago, she reconnects with the other girls who were similarly drawn to life on the island, where the nights were long, the alcohol was free-flowing, and everyone acted in ways they never would at home. And as she does so, dark and deeply suppressed secrets about her first love affair begin to rise to the surface, as well as the truth about her time working for an enigmatic and wealthy man who controlled so much more than she could have ever realized.

Joining a post #MeToo discourse, The Girls of Summer grapples with themes of power, sex, and consent as it explores the complicated nature of memory and trauma––and what it takes to reframe, and reclaim, your own story.

The Girls Of Summer By Katie Bishop- Review

Woah. This book, though. Katie Bishop’s The Girls of Summer is being touted as a post #metoo-themed novel. However, that isn’t fair to The Girls of Summer, as it is so much more. It is that, don’t get me wrong, and it is essential. However, in The Girls of Summer, Katie Bishop discusses how reality fractures and splinters. It is a tale of youth stolen and girls abused by sexual predators in a Jefferey Epsteinesque fashion.

Through Katie Bishop’s expert storytelling, our heart falls with these girls. The story is split into two timelines, then and now. In the “then,” as it is happening, you are never told they are being drugged, raped, or abused. But Katie Bishop forces you to see it, feel it, and whisper… no, oh no, no, no… throughout The Girls of Summer. Because you know what these girls don’t. You know what is really happening versus their perception.

The Girls Of Summer does not stop there, nope. Next, it takes those dualling timelines to show how perceptions change over time and how this experience can follow you your whole life. Then it was an adventure with the excitement of a beach island, drinks, and girls- no- best friends piled into a home. Now, it is mossy and moldy. Noticeably different, now, is how each girl viewed that summer. Despite how close they thought they were, they weren’t on the same page, let alone the same path.


Thanks to Macmillan Audio and St. Martin’s Press for an advance audio copy of The Girls Of Summer by Katie Bishop. It releases on June 6th

For Racheal, the level of manipulation she faces leaves her with a warped view, even as an adult. That summer overshadows her entire identity. Although groomed, manipulated, and sold for sex work, she still loves Alistair and that time on a Greek island. Through Racheal’s eyes, we see how running from your past doesn’t work. Instead, it will infiltrate every action, thought, and relationship throughout your adult life.

When Racheal tracks down Alistair as an adult (she is now in her mid-30s, and he’s two decades older), it is obvious how his power and influence are still rooted in her psyche. She truly believes things were her fault and that the past is on her. Rather than Alistair apologizing for taking advantage of her friends and selling them for sex to old, influential men. And apologizing is the least he could do. He belongs in jail. Instead, she cries to him apologetically despite him having drugged and trafficked Rachel and her friends. And then, just like that, he has all the power and all the control.

Katie Bishop demonstrates the slow fall masterfully in the past and now. As a child when Alistair first sees her in a bar and begins seducing her, grooming her to fall in love with him, believe his lies, and then do whatever he asks. Then, as an adult how he plays her via texts, or a lack thereof, being just distant enough to pull her back in and then regaining control.

It shows how Racheal can’t let go of the need to believe you are different, unique. The difficulty of pulling away from someone who will say whatever they have to, to keep you in line until they don’t need you anymore. A typical narcissist that gets in your head and stays there.

The Girls Of Summer By Katie Bishop- Victim Shaming

Another brilliant point that The Girls Of Summer delves into is victim shaming/blaming. Oh boy. Once the girls get on the same page to go after Alistair, there is a lot from the cops and lawyers that is just wrong.

  • Well, if you said yes even one time…
  • If you ever, even once, enjoyed yourself…
  • Did you take the money and housing willingly?

This undermined their day in court and affected the outcome of some of the counts brought against Alistair.

The Girls Of Summer By Katie Bishop- Final Thoughts/Is This A Thriller

I want to take a moment to address something I mention often. I am in awe of female authors that write thrillers with women’s issues embedded into the plot. The only time (and this is a me thing) that I stop enjoying this is when the emotional drama takes over, and it is more literary than a thriller. In both The Ingenue and The Ballerinas, Rachel Kapelke-Dale walks this tightrope masterfully.

I have mentioned, in other reviews, books that touch on essential issues to women but are also homerun thrillers. They include (but are not limited to) The First To Lie, The Swap, and It’s One of Us. Add Katie Bishop’s The Girls of Summer to that list. Not only does it have powerhouse themes, but it is also a powerhouse thriller. Between the dual timeline and (I can’t say this enough) Katie Bishop’s writing, it is a creepy, edge-of-your-seat thriller.

The Girls of Summer is one of those books that just makes you constantly beg the characters to wake up, understand, and not do X. Even though you know, they will. The central mystery also carries this thriller into a taught and claustrophobic place.

Katie Bishop’s debut is a must-read for anyone who loves palpable thrillers with societal themes infused. Bonus! She never beats the dead horse with these themes. It is a perfect balance.


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