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The Summer Demands

3.01  ·  Rating details ·  440 ratings  ·  71 reviews
Taking place over a single summer in an abandoned Massachusetts summer camp, this quietly menacing novel explores the sting of seduction, unspoken female rage, and how desire and ambition shift over time to reveal the “undercurrents between our younger and older selves” (O, The Oprah Magazine).

After Emily inherits an abandoned summer camp in Massachusetts just before her f
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published June 4th 2019 by Catapult
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Average rating 3.01  · 
Rating details
 ·  440 ratings  ·  71 reviews

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Elyse  Walters
Jun 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“The Summer Demands”, by Deborah Shapiro smoky- sultry- artful in style- captivating - beautifully written- tantalizing & alluring .....a story about seduction that I found seductive to read.

NO SPOILERS.... just hints to tease.....

Emily and David - (married- entering their 40’s) - move from Chicago to Massachusetts to take over an abandoned Summer Camp that Emily inherited from her aunt and uncle. The plan was to restore the camp and turn it into an upscale retreat - host various artists
Jun 21, 2020 rated it liked it
I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher (Catapult) in exchange for an honest review.

Going into this book, I was very excited to read it because loved the premise. It’s exactly the type of book I like to read. However, the execution left much to be desired.

I didn’t become hooked into the book until about halfway through. That is when things got interesting due to an arrival of a new character. Once that happened, the book ended rather quickly. It felt like there could have bee
Jun 12, 2019 rated it it was ok
I don't understand what this book was about.
Audra PS
Jun 24, 2019 rated it did not like it
Snooze! Had a lot of potential, but lazy execution. I dont understand the hype about this one at all!
Jun 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
There are some fortunate women who march forward in life, straightforwardly and clearheadedly, never taking their eye off their ultimate goal. Many, though, are not unlike our narrator, Emily – on the cusp of entering her middle years, still grieving a miscarriage, unable to determine “what she wants to be when she grows up”, and trying to make sense of both her past and her future.

When Emily and her husband arrive to take over an inherited and abandoned Massachusetts summer camp, they find that
Jun 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Could have been interesting. Forgettable. Would have been better if someone had an affair and this wasn't just about some lady who can't find a job for a summer and meets a new friend. Would have rather read about this couples attempts at renovation.
Amy Miller
May 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
This wasn't a book about much, and I certainly do not think it is a book for many, but it was a book for me. I don't know if it was the intense inner dialogue or the similarities between Emily and me (as well as our differences), but I found a lot to ponder and to connect with in this short novel. I think I'll forget it, and forget it quickly, but that's just like summer, isn't it? Rich and sometimes intense and full of moments of wonder and pondering and all too quickly over.
Nutan Mathew
Jul 09, 2019 rated it did not like it
Self indulgent drivel. The only good part is that it's just over 200 pages. I'll never get those 2 hours back. So much hype over nothing.
Aug 08, 2019 rated it it was ok
I wanted to really like this book but never found any parts particularly interesting. Though technically ‘well written’ it felt a little pretentious and hella boring.
Mar 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My review in the Chicago Tribune:

The label “beach read” generally connotes a throw-away novel suitable for consumption on vacation: engaging, but not too heavy; nothing that might spoil a person’s holiday vibe. Of course, different people have different preferences in what they like to read at the beach, and Deborah Shapiro’s smart, funny, nuanced and seductive second novel, “The Summer Demands,” just might be this season’s sophisticated option for people
May 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
For more of my book content check out

I really enjoyed this one!
Shapiro's writing is really good, very descriptive. I was pulled in at once. These female characters are really well written. They both had such depth to them. I was facinated by Emily's character because she had this history to her, and a longing for things. While Stella was youthful and had a mystical quality to her that was very bewitching and mysterious. I had to keep reading to find out what would happ
Amy Scissors
Jul 12, 2019 rated it it was ok
Pretentious. Nothing happens.
Jul 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
This book is essentially an academic romance. That is, it is romance novel that is couched in literary language, feminist treatise, and philosophical thought. In general, I’m not a fan of romance, and that could be why I wasn’t a big fan of this novel.

I did actually enjoy the writing, which was unique—a short, staccato style of prose that verges at times on poetry. The movement between action and exposition (wandering thoughts of the narrator, Emily, who is trying to figure her 40-year-old self
Varsha Ravi (between.bookends)

There have been books in the vein of a person entering a married couple's life, changing their dynamics in some inexplicable way and exiting just as suddenly as they had entered, leaving not much of a trace. But few manage to handle this in a very interesting way and Deborah Shapiro's The Summer Demands really stands out in that regard. In it, you're following a middle-aged couple, Emily & David, having had a miscarriage a few years previously and unable to conceive a child, move into a lar
Jul 24, 2019 rated it really liked it

The Short of It:

Gave me all the feels of The Big Chill but with a smaller cast of characters.

The Rest of It:

On the verge of her fortieth birthday, Emily inherits an abandoned summer camp from her aunt. She and her husband move there, with the hopes of transforming it into an artist colony. The old, main house is full of charm and memories but the rest of the camp is in need of repair. They both realize it will take quite a bit of resources to get it to where it needs to be. What they don’t immed
Margaux Weisman
Jun 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The perfect novel to read on a hammock or at the beach. THE SUMMER DEMANDS feels like warm sun on your skin with your eyes closed and the smell of sunscreen. This novel is stunningly written and so astute about intimacy and women's relationships. The setting of an empty summer camp felt both otherworldly and nostalgic. Deborah Shapiro is a gorgeous writer.
Jun 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved Deborah Shapiro's first novel, The Sun in Your Eyes, and The Summer Demands is its languid, dreamy cousin. Nobody does women's interiority like Shapiro. You can read this in a day or you can stretch it out and savor the summer haze, the confusion and desire, the watchful suspense of the will-they-or-won't-they of it all. A beautiful book.
Mar 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
I got an ARC of this book. Deb is a great, descriptive writer that enables you to capture the image of the characters. The women friendships and relationships make you think and feel like you’re a part of it. This book would make a great independent movie.
Sage Bailey
Jun 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
You can read my full review here: (

This is a short novel with super gay vibes, that feels cool, breezy and undemanding. The perfect beach read.
Mar 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book - mysterious, sexy, full summer on the page. So smoothly and elegantly written too.
Aug 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
About to turn 40 and having recently suffered a miscarriage, Emily and husband David move from Chicago to a newly acquired property in MA where Emily spent many a summer growing up. The property was once an old summer camp that belonged to Emily's late aunt. The property is in a state of disrepair but the couple is hoping to turn it into a possible resort.

While David is away and working long hours Emily is unemployed, looking for work and trying to come up with ideas for the property. As she roa
Jul 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
The Summer Demands was quiet and beautiful but you know those books where the author is sharing all sorts of thoughts that you have had but thought no one else had? That was this book for me. ⁠Add to that some really lovely writing (and a New England setting...I am a sucker for that) and I was just completely in love with this one.⁠

The main character, Emily, and her husband, David, have recently gone through a miscarriage and moved to an abandoned summer camp in Massachusetts that they inherite
Jul 28, 2019 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Emily and David, a 40-ish couple, grieving the miscarriage of a long-tried-for pregnancy, pull up city stakes and decide to build their life at an abandoned summer camp they’ve inherited. While David finds work in nearby Boston, Emily spends her days wandering through the camp she frequented as a girl, where she discovers Stella, a young woman squatting in one of the cabins. Emily is irresistibly drawn to Stella, her churning thoughts and emotions cycling her through the roles of friend, mother, ...more
Jun 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: brettlikesbooks
thanks so much @catapult for sending me this copy of
THE SUMMER DEMANDS by deborah shapiro (fiction) penetrating characters in limbo during a moody, sultry summer + atmosphere charged with longing, searching, desire, control

“‘You want to be someone new when you’re seen by someone new. You know what I mean? Really seen. And I think that’s what you miss and what you want at a certain age, when most of your firsts are behind you.’
You want discovery, I thought, but I didn’t say it out loud.”

Barrett Brassfield
Jun 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
I very much enjoyed the mood of this book. Shapiro's novel brings the season of summer to life in a way that I rarely feel stories do. Season and place. Fully realized as to immerse the reader into the middle of Emily's life. If only for a short time, like summer itself.

edit: I decided not to write a lot of specifics about this novel, preferring to leave it to live in the moment of reading, but I do find now several days out from finishing that I miss Stella and even Alice a little bit. Certain
Jul 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this book thoroughly. I finished it rather quickly. It seemed like everything that happened in these pages could really have happened. I’m not all that thrilled with the ending. Everything wasn’t wrapped up in a perfect bow. But that is also what makes me think that the book was true to life.
Jul 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It was true literary fiction..a book to ponder over, the get lost in the characters and their inner worlds. The characters were so alive and real and the way they were thrown together was so intimate and interesting..I was engaged in this slice of life and enjoyed very much.
Catherine Riviera
Jun 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really loved this book. It started off in a different type of tone that I am not used to reading, but it totally worked.
A full review to come!
Jul 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Intensely atmospheric, great writing. A study on the nuance of relationships and human interactions. This is my favorite kind of book, perfect for summer
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Deborah Shapiro was born and raised outside of Boston, Massachusetts. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times Book Review, Los Angeles Review of Books, Sight Unseen, Tin House, Literary Hub, and elsewhere. Her first novel, The Sun In Your Eyes, was selected as an Editors' Choice by The New York Times Book Review, as well as one of the season's best reads by Harper's Bazaar, The Wall Street ...more

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