The Last Bathing Beauty by Amy Sue Nathan

From the Publisher: "A former beauty queen faces the secrets of her past—for herself and the sake of her family’s future—in a heartfelt novel about fate, choices, and second chances".

My thoughts: In 1951, Betty “Boop” Stern wanted nothing more than to have a summer romance and to spend her days with her friends Doris and Georgia at the Jewish lake resort where she lived with her Grandparents. Her parents had left her with her Grandparents when Betty was five years old, and she’d always been an ideal Granddaughter - one that worked hard at the resort in summers, and did well at school. In fact, Betty was due to head off for college at the end of summer. This, at a time in history, when most girls aspired to get married and have a family if, and when, they completed high school.

Betty finds her romance in the very attractive college man Abe, there to work at the resort over the summer. The attraction is immediate and intense. When she learns from Abe that he isn’t Jewish, Betty realizes this might impede a future together as far as her family was concerned. But she loved him and she was sure that her family would grow to love him as well.

The book is told from two time periods: Betty, in the summer of 1951, and Boop as a woman in her 80’s in 2017. Rejoined for one last summer at the home of her youth by her life long friends, Boop is surprised by a visit from her Granddaughter Hannah, who needs some time away from her own life to gain perspective and to get advice from her Grandmother. The secret story of her youth is recalled to Hannah in order to provide some insight into the decisions that Hannah must make, as well as to bring peace to Boop for decisions made long ago.

I really enjoyed this story. Fans of the movie “Dirty Dancing” will appreciate the context and setting of this story. I appreciate the messaging in the book, which reflects a time some might say was simpler, but also more rigid.

This book is a perfect summer read and I recommend it to readers of Women’s fiction.

Thanks to Netgalley and Lake Union Publishing for the ARC of this book in exchange for the honest review provided here.

My rating - ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️/5.

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