Tourist destinations with famous beaches often suffer abuse threatening to destroy the very attractions leading outsiders to find them. Mary Alice Monroe offers beach readers a chance to wile away the hours while alerting them to be aware of their responsibility to their surroundings.
Gregory Cowles Inside the List for the New York Times introduced me to Monroe’s low country summer novels and her quest to save the environment. Making my way through the first paperback – “The Summer Girls” – with saving the dolphins as the target, I enjoyed a quick read with romance and a reminder to be aware – our actions more often affect everyone and everything around us.
The Summer Girls, the first book in the Lowcountry Summer Trilogy features three half sisters brought together after years apart by their aging grandmother. Each has her own life issues to resolve: Dora with an autistic son and a pending divorce; Carson, without a job and the possibility of battling alcoholism; Harper, struggling to be free of an overbearing mother. They have the same dead father in common.
The budding romance between Carson and the handsome NOAA biologist as well as Carson’s interaction with her autistic nephew drive Monroe’s real focus on eco-tourism. She noted in her interview: “No one comes to my novels to learn about pelicans or turtles…they come for the people, for the emotions. But that’s how I hook them.”
Although the plot sounds like a soap opera, Monroe connects her characters to realistic problems, and showcases her underlying environmental theme to educate as well as to warn. I read the paperback in a day, feeling satisfied and informed. Knowing the author has a catalog of over twenty books, with missions to save the turtles, pelicans, and more, I may seek out another when I need a thoughtful break.