Book Rec: One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle
Updated: May 19
“There is more to life than just continuing to do what we know. What got you here won’t get you there.”
New York Times bestselling author Rebecca Serle writes about the point in adulthood where we learn our parents are human, too and not always perfect. One Italian Summer pulled at my heartstrings. Set in beautiful Positano, the mother/daughter relationship hits home and makes me dread my own inevitable separation on this Earth from my beloved mother. This book recommendation will make you want to book a flight to Italy immediately! Discussion guide for One Italian Summer below.
When Katy’s mother dies, she is left reeling. Carol wasn’t just Katy’s mom, but her best friend and first phone call. She had all the answers and now, when Katy needs her the most, she is gone. To make matters worse, their planned mother-daughter trip of a lifetime looms: to Positano, the magical town where Carol spent the summer right before she met Katy’s father. Katy has been waiting years for Carol to take her, and now she is faced with embarking on the adventure alone.
But as soon as she steps foot on the Amalfi Coast, Katy begins to feel her mother’s spirit. Buoyed by the stunning waters, beautiful cliffsides, delightful residents, and, of course, delectable food, Katy feels herself coming back to life.
And then Carol appears—in the flesh, healthy, sun-tanned, and thirty years old. Katy doesn’t understand what is happening, or how—all she can focus on is that she has somehow, impossibly, gotten her mother back. Over the course of one Italian summer, Katy gets to know Carol, not as her mother, but as the young woman before her. She is not exactly who Katy imagined she might be, however, and soon Katy must reconcile the mother who knew everything with the young woman who does not yet have a clue.
Discussion Questions (spoilers ahead)!
The story begins after Carol has died. In the book, Serle writes, “if your mother is the love of your life, what does that make your husband?” Katy is a wreck without Carol, but seems indifferent to Eric. What do you make of this?
Why do you think Katy decides to continue with her plans for the Italian vacation?
What do you think of the magical realism of the novel – with Katy running into Carol in the 1990s? Do you think it helps her healing journey? It what ways?
We learn a big secret from Carol. How does this revelation impact Katy?
As Katy learns more about her mother’s past, she realized she is less than perfect. How does this Katy grow and ultimately move forward?