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About The Book

An emotional and unforgettable tale of a small town irrevocably affected by an unforeseen and shocking event—from the author of the “charming gem of a novel” (Elin Hilderbrand, #1 New York Times bestselling author) Mystic Summer.

Wendell Combs is as local as they come. Born and raised in the small town of Saybrook, Connecticut, his venture into the larger world was met with heartbreak. Now, middle-aged and a confirmed bachelor, he seeks solitude from his tour of duty as a soldier back in his hometown, working as head caretaker for wealthy Alan Lancaster’s forty-acre estate, White Pines, a place he has come to love for its beauty, peace, and quiet.

Alan’s eldest daughter, fifteen-year-old Julia, also loves White Pines, but for very different reasons. She and her little sister spend their days riding horses, swimming in the lake, and painting landscapes inspired by the property they adore. While her parents prepare to host their annual summer gala fundraiser, Julia’s eyes are set to the simpler joys of summer: she’s fallen in love with the boy-next-door and longs for their next encounter.

But as the last guests leave on that magical summer night, a tragedy no one could have predicted suddenly occurs, shaking the entire town to its core. Wendell and Julia now face an uncertain future. At the height of their grief, two very different women return to Saybrook: Ginny Feldman, Wendell’s first love, who cannot stay away any longer, and Candace Lancaster, Julia’s estranged aunt who wants nothing to do with the town or the family estate she escaped decades earlier. Now, the only familiar things Julia has to cling to are Wendell and White Pines, but it looks like she’s about to lose both...

With Hannah McKinnon’s “sharp and evocative” (Kirkus Reviews) prose, this stirring and affecting tale explores the connection between people and place and what, ultimately, makes up the fabric of a family.

About The Author

© Kate Wark Photography

Hannah McKinnon is the author of several novels, including The Lake SeasonMystic SummerThe Summer HouseSailing LessonsThe View from HereMessage in the Sand, and The Darlings. She graduated from Connecticut College and the University of South Australia. She lives in Connecticut, with her family, a flock of chickens, and two raggedy rescue dogs.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books (June 15, 2021)
  • Length: 352 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781982114596

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Raves and Reviews

"A sweet story about a small town, and the one summer that changes everything for its inhabitants. Right now, more than ever, we need stories about resilience, strength, and how the people we see every day have the power to change our lives— the latest novel by Hannah McKinnon delivers."

– Brenda Janowitz, author of THE GRACE KELLY DRESS

"Loyal readers of Catherine Ryan Hyde and Mary Alice Monroe will appreciate the web of relationships spun over decades and the strength of unlikely allies. Blending young love, rekindled romance, and the power of potential, McKinnon’s latest is heartwarming to its core."

– Booklist

“A cast of deeply wounded souls struggles with devastating losses in Message in the Sand, a gripping, heart-wrenching novel of domestic fiction by Hannah McKinnon . . . In this gripping, emotional story, a shattering tragedy upends the lives of two young girls and those in their orbit.”

– Shelf Awareness

"McKinnon effortlessly transforms tragedy and family drama into a story about love, hope and laughter that has you turning the pages in hopes of a happily ever after for everyone involved . . . Full of heart wrenching moments and plenty of surprises."

– The Girly Book Club

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