The Clover Girls by Viola Shipman
Published by Graydon House ISBN 9781525896002
Trade paperback, $16.99, 416 pages
If you've ever had a really tight-knit group of girlfriends when you were a teenager, Viola Shipman's The Clover Girls is made for you.
Four girls- Emily, Veronica, Elizabeth and Rachel- meet at summer camp in Michigan back in 1985. They bond together and nickname themselves 'The Clover Girls' after they find a four leaf clover.
Emily is the mom of the group. After her brother died, her parents thought it would be good for her to away from all the sadness. She is smart, kind, and caring.
Veronica is the confident, funny leader of the group, a real beauty. Rachel is the talented one, she sings and dances, and wants to be a movie star. Liz is the creative one, always designing clothes for the others and herself. Veronica and Rachel as the shining stars bond together, leaving Liz and Emily together.
As the story moves to 2021, a letter from Emily to each of them asking them to reunite for a week at Camp Birchwood, arrives. Emily and Liz have stayed in touch, but we find that something happened during their last summer together that tore the four friends apart.
Liz is a real estate agent who spends much of time caring for her elderly mother who has dementia and lives in a nursing home. She is devastated that her own children and grandchildren do not visit her mother or even seem to show any empathy towards Liz. Liz is expected to be the caretaker for the entire family.
Veronica went on to a successful modeling career. Now she is married to a successful architect, and mom to a teenage son and daughter. They live in Los Angeles, and all that that lifestyle entails, yet Veronica is unfulfilled with her life, a void she fills with junk food that she hides from her family.
Rachel became a sitcom star in the 1990s, and now she is a public relations consultant to conservative politicians. She is a very public face, appearing regularly on cable talk shows, defending ideals that confound her family and friends.
When the friends reunite, old wounds come up to the surface. They relive past slights and hurts. Why did Emily want them to come back together; can they forgive, forget, and move on? Can they become the friends they once were?
There are a lot of 1980s touchstones here. The movie The Breakfast Club plays a big part, and books like Flowers in the Attic, and songs like Journey's Open Arms will bring back memories for those of us who grew up in that era.
I related best to Liz, and I think most readers will find themselves doing the same. The characters of Veronica and Rachel seemed too similar to me, and I sometimes had a difficult time remembering which was which, as each woman takes turns narrating the story. They had lives that most of us don't lead.
I didn't go to summer camp, but if you did, you will get an extra layer of satisfaction from this story, remembering and comparing your own experiences.
Thanks to Harlequin for putting me on their Beach Reads Summer Blog Tour.