Summer Shift

A Novel

Summer Shift

Forty-four-year-old Cape Cod clam bar owner Mary Hopkins is stuck in the cycle of her seasonal business; overwhelmed by the relentless influx of new names and fresh young faces, she feels as if life is passing her by.

In the first days of the summer season, a young waitress’s tragic accident stirs up unresolved pain from Mary’s past, leaving her longing for connection. At the same time, Mary’s life is further upended as she begins to suspect her beloved great-aunt, the one person in the world who loves her unconditionally, is descending into Alzheimer’s disease. Then, in walks Dan, a lost love—perhaps the greatest of her life— returning to the Cape after disappearing years before without an explanation. As Mary faces these challenges and losses, it’s her rekindled romance with Dan and her burgeoning unlikely friendships with a warm, eccentric collection of local characters that keep her afloat.

Set against the backdrop of Cape Cod sand, sun, and seafood, Summer Shift is the story of a woman’s struggle to find the peace, love, and human connection that have eluded her for decades.
  • Touchstone | 
  • 336 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781439128978 | 
  • June 2010
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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Summer Shift includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Lynn Kiele Bonasia. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.



Mary Hopkins, a successful Cape Cod restaurant owner, is reasonably satisfied with her stable life. But at the beginning of a new season, when a young waitress is killed in a car accident, Mary realizes she knows nothing about the people who work for her. Meanwhile, she struggles to cope with the fact that her beloved great aunt Lovey has just been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Finally, when an old flame shows up at her doorstep, Mary is forced to abandon her careful existence and confront her own dark past.

As Mary fights to regain her footing, she becomes inextricably involved in the lives of the surviving members of her employee’s family and ultimately finds that moving forward usually involves forgiving the past. 


Questions and Topics for Discussion

1.)    What effect does the beginning of the novel, in which Mary and Robbie open the restaurant, have on the theme of failed expectations that pervades the story?
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About the Author

Lynn Kiele Bonasia

Lynn Kiele Bonasia has been a freelance advertising copywriter for more than twenty years. She has published short fiction in The Seattle Review and The Miami Herald, among others. She and her family spend summers on Cape Cod and live outside Boston during the winter. Please visit her website at