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Friendship by the Book: An Interview with Laura Hankin, author of The Summertime Girls

Published: December 17, 2015 | Last Updated: September 30, 2022 By | 4 Replies Continue Reading
The Summertime Girls

The Summertime Girls

The Summertime Girls (Berkley, 2015), a debut novel by 20-something author Laura Hankin, tells the story of two lifelong friends who reconnect after growing apart.

I was delighted to have the opportunity to speak to the author in this Q &A. Laura graciously agreed to offer a copy of the book to one randomly selected reader of The Friendship Blog. For a chance to win, see the giveaway rules below:

Laura, can you briefly tell us about the plot of The Summertime Girls?

Since college, Beth has been attempting to save the world in Haiti, while her childhood friend, Ally, has been pursuing her dream of being a singer-songwriter in NYC (but mostly getting too drunk on cheap whiskey).

When a family crisis prompts Beth to end the silence between them, the two young women are forced back together for one final summer in small-town Maine, where they have to mend their rift before they lose each other for good.

Were there any events in your own real life that drove the storyline or characters? 

Yes, totally! I’m sure a lot of women have experienced the same thing I did in my early-to-mid-twenties–a moment when I looked around and realized that my friends from childhood and I had grown in really different ways, and that we needed to do some work to keep our friendships as strong as they once were.

At the same time, I was also feeling very creatively frustrated trying to find work as an actor, which drove Ally’s characterization as a struggling musician. In the book, Ally deals with her frustration by seeking validation in some not-particularly-healthy places. I tried to channel my frustration into writing a novel instead!

Did you have a particular reader in mind when you wrote the book? 

Ideally, I’d like anyone to be able to pick it up and enjoy it! (Well, perhaps not a young child. There are some steamy scenes…) And I’ve been very heartened to hear from readers of all types, from a high-school girl to a sixty-five-year-old man, who have found it relatable. But I also think that there is something particular about the close friendships between women, and about the confusing experience of being in your twenties and having so many options, but also feeling paths closing off all around you, that I really tried to capture.

What challenges do Ally and Beth encounter in their friendship?

They’ve chosen very different life paths, and they don’t always agree with the other one’s decisions about how best to live. On top of that, Ally had a lot of trouble balancing her friendship with Beth with her relationship with her ex-boyfriend, and neither one of them is particularly confrontational, so they let things fester for a long time.

Is there any life lesson that you learned about female friendships that you wanted to convey to your readers?

No festering! Open communication about what you want from the other person is so, so important. And also, I think we as a society tend to believe that friendships should be easy, and, yes, a lot of the time they should be. But just like any other relationship, they go through rough patches, and that’s no reason to give up on them! Doing the work is worth it.

About the author:

Laura Hankin has been published in The Washington Post, and has also written for The Huffington Post and HelloGiggles. Since graduating from Princeton, she has become all too familiar with the confusing experience of being a twenty-something in NYC, where she’s done everything from starring in an off-Broadway show to planning flash mob marriage proposals. The Summertime Girls is her debut novel.

Laura Hankin

Author Laura Hankin

Take a peek at the YouTube friendship video Laura created that’s set in Washington Square Park:


To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment (in the comments section below) on or before January 1 explaining why you would like to win a copy of The Summertime Girls. One reader will be randomly selected and announced here.

Purchase and/or read about The Summertime Girls on Amazon:

‘”Friendship by the Book” is an occasional series of posts on this blog about books that offer friendship lessons. To read other posts in the series, use the search function on the right side of the page.

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Comments (4)

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  1. Lauren says:

    Looks like a very interesting book!

  2. Kimmy M says:

    This book sounds great! Friendship has always been an important part of my life and I love reading books that focus on it. I just recently ended a friendship and it ended badly. Now more than ever, I’m focusing on cultivating healthy friendships. I’d love to read this book! Thanks for the giveaway!

  3. Amy F says:

    A comment.

  4. Anne says:

    This novel sounds captivating and meaningful. The characters and their relationship would be wonderful to read about. Thanks for this unforgettable novel which interests me greatly. Novels with depth are what I care about.

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