One Summer in Savannah

A Novel

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Pub Date 04 Jul 2023 | Archive Date 18 Jul 2023
SOURCEBOOKS Landmark, Sourcebooks Landmark

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A compelling debut that glows with bittersweet heart and touching emotion, deeply interrogating questions of family, redemption, and unconditional love in the sweltering summer heat of Savannah, as two people discover what it means to truly forgive.

It's been eight years since Sara Lancaster left her home in Savannah, Georgia. Eight years since her daughter, Alana, came into this world, following a terrifying sexual assault that left deep emotional wounds Sara would do anything to forget. But when Sara's father falls ill, she's forced to return home and face the ghosts of her past.

While caring for her father and running his bookstore, Sara is desperate to protect her curious, outgoing, genius daughter from the Wylers, the family of the man who assaulted her. Sara thinks she can succeed—her attacker is in prison, his identical twin brother, Jacob, left town years ago, and their mother are all unaware Alana exists. But she soon learns that Jacob has also just returned to Savannah to piece together the fragments of his once-great family. And when their two worlds collide—with the type of force Sara explores in her poetry and Jacob in his astrophysics—they are drawn together in unexpected ways.

A compelling debut that glows with bittersweet heart and touching emotion, deeply interrogating questions of family, redemption, and unconditional love in the sweltering summer heat of Savannah, as...

Advance Praise

"Terah Shelton Harris’s daring debut is nothing short of astonishing. To write a novel that has the capacity to uplift you while it tears your heart to shreds is a balancing act few can achieve, but Harris does with ease and endless empathy. We are brought face-to-face with the most difficult questions―of family, forgiveness, and how to make a way forward―but if we can muster the courage of characters like Sara and Jacob, we will find answers that sustain us for years to come. The best writers are brave writers, and Harris has proven herself among those ranks." ―Mateo Askaripour, New York Times bestselling author of Black Buck

"An unforgettable portrayal of familial tragedy, bravery, and redemption. Harris delivers a powerful heartrending debut about what it means to forgive the unforgivable." Kim Michele Richardson, New York Times bestselling author of The Book Woman’s Daughter  

"Every once in a while, a book comes along that touches the reader at the very core. One Summer in Savannah is that book. Terah Shelton Harris's provocative debut is beautifully written, absorbing, and brimming with emotion and insight. A poignant, touching, and timely novel that asks the question: what does it mean to truly forgive? This is unequivocally a best book of 2023." ― Rochelle B. Weinstein, USA TODAY bestselling author of This is Not How It Ends

"Steeped in poetry, place, and compassion, Terah Shelton Harris’s moving debut novel One Summer in Savannah will turn readers' hearts inside out as her characters navigate the vagaries of forgiveness and the boundaries and boundlessness of love." ―Julie Carrick Dalton, author of The Last Beekeeper

"Terah Shelton Harris blew me away with One Summer in Savannah. The grace and ease of her storytelling is a thing to behold. I found myself rooting for Sara, Alana, and Jacob. This book, put simply, is a masterclass, a lyrical meditation on trauma, forgiveness, compassion, and love. Harris is definitely a writer to watch!" ―Catherine Adel West, author of The Two Lives of Sara

"A poignant and nuanced exploration of forgiveness when stakes are high and outcomes uncertain. In this beautifully written debut, Harris grants us entry into the hearts of two wounded characters for whom running away from family secrets has offered no real escape. This layered story of love and courage reminds us that sometimes the way forward requires looking back." ― Kelly Mustian, author of The Girls in the Stilt House

"A gorgeously written, tender examination of love, loss, and the heart-wracking journey towards forgiveness and self-discovery. Terah's elegant prose draws you into intricately woven lives and nuance of emotions she explores through unforgettable characters. A gentle reminder of the self-healing power of forgiveness and the courage it takes to push darkness away, while letting true love (and poetry) fully fill the cracks of our broken lives." ―Lola Akinmade Åkerström, international bestselling author of In Every Mirror She's Black

"One Summer in Savannah is a powerful and thought-provoking novel. Terah Shelton Harris beautifully explores courage, strength, and the power we can derive from all that surrounds us: in the words of a poem, in those we love, in ourselves. Sara's journey in moving past her torments, finding love, and finding peace for herself is equal parts inspiring and enchanting" ―Shauna Robinson, author of The Banned Bookshop of Maggie Banks

"Terah Shelton Harris’s daring debut is nothing short of astonishing. To write a novel that has the capacity to uplift you while it tears your heart to shreds is a balancing act few can achieve, but...

Available Editions

EDITION Paperback
ISBN 9781728265742
PRICE $16.99 (USD)

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Average rating from 166 members

Featured Reviews

One Summer in Savannah is brilliantly and beautifully written. Within the pages are a kaleidoscope of emotions, it is heartbreaking, redemptive, honest, joyful and very, very sad. The words on each page urge the reader to feel each tear that is shed, each angry outburst and each act of forgiveness, however subtle they may be.

Sara is raped at the tender age of 18 and her life changes drastically after the assault. She is young, pregnant by her rapist and scared. The author does not detail the assault, rather she artfully lets the reader know this fact by a much gentler prose and less triggering description. When Alana is born, Sara has difficulty bonding with the unwanted baby, but once she realizes the love she has for her child, she fiercely protects Alana from her rapist, his family and even the town she grew up in. When Sara’s father becomes ill, she must go home to spend his last few months with him. When she unexpectedly runs into her assailant’s twin brother, she experiences an initial terror, then acceptance, then love. Fear can grab you and hold on for a very long time. Sometimes it takes something extraordinary to ease that fear. And that’s what Jacob did for Sara, he came into her life when she needed to finally let go of her fear and anger.

My words cannot do this book the justice it deserves, you must read it for yourself to get the full immersive experience. It is simply stunning. I give this book 5 stars and I’m looking forward to the next book by Terah Shelton Harris.
Thank you, NetGalley and Sourcebooks Landmark for the ARC.

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One Summer in Savannah
A Novel
by Terah Shelton Harris
A compelling debut that glows with bittersweet heart and touching emotion, deeply interrogating questions of family, redemption, and unconditional love in the sweltering summer heat of Savannah, as two people discover what it means to truly forgive.

I fell in love with Terah Shelton Harris's writing. What a talent as a first novel.BRAVO. It is a book that you fall into. I lost track of time. It will show forgiveness, love for a child, and what it means to let love in. This is one I shall share with many.

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Rich in descriptive language and awash in emotions, this beautifully crafted debut novel had me hooked from the onset..
When her father becomes Ill, Sara Lancaster decides to leave her home in Maine and venture back to Savannah,, with her eight year old, extraordinarily gifted daughter, Alana. It’s a complicated decision as Alana was conceived as the result of a rape when Sara was only 18 years old. Returning home to help run her dad’s bookstore might put her in the path of her rapist’s wealthy family, the Wylers. She vows to protect her daughter from any Wyler influence only to find out that her daughter’s uncle, Jacob, has also returned to Savannah. Although he testified at his brother’s trial, which sent Daniel to prison, Sara is afraid to trust him.
The result was a page turner. The characters were so beautifully drawn so that I was completely invested in their future. I loved this book and will anxiously await the next book by this talented author.
Thank you NetGalley for an advanced copy of One Summer In Savannah!”

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I was so grateful to receive the arc of this debut from Terah Shelton Harris, a fellow librarian! She crafted a beautiful setting and I loved the alternating perspectives/chapters. Both main characters felt fully formed and by the end you just want to hug everyone. I can't wait until this comes out in July and recommend it to all my patrons.

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Wow, what a wonderful debut novel. I will be anxiously awaiting more works by this author. The story was rich, detailed, heartwarming, thought provoking and just an all around great read. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the chance to read this.

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Everyone, everyone, add this to your "To Read" list for 2023. It was truly a privilege to read - immersive, layered, redemptive, honest... Thank you, NetGalley and Sourcebooks Landmark for the ARC.

Synopsis: At 18, Sara is raped and impregnated in Georgia by a man named Daniel. The story really begins when Sara's daughter Alana is 8, and we see the intense safety net that's been placed around her to protect her from Danie's powerful family, who made her life hell during the trial that ultimately sent Daniel to prison. Sara and Alana have lived far away from Savannah, her home where the assault look place, but when Sara finds out that her father Hosea is sick, she reluctantly turns home. We see beautiful moments of Sara spending time with Hosea, her coming to grips wit the fact that there could have been more time between them had she not hidden away for so long. Sara starts helping out at her father's bookstore, and Daniel's twin brother Jacob (real name David), walks in. She finds out it's him, and after feeling initial terror of realizing his identity, we are taken through the journey of their love story that develops, albeit slowly, with acceptance, honesty, patience, and tenderness. We see creative elements of a father who only speaks in poetry, a child genius who's going to change the world with some tutoring help from Jacob, but most of all, we learn of forgiveness - the willigness to face the past and free ourselves of battles that have been holding us back and taking away from monumental life moments.

The language is beautiful, the story is layered and immersive, awash in emotions...Terah's writing brought me into a sensory experience. It's a must read!

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Sara left home after a sexual assault, she returns with her daughter eight years later to take care of her ailing father. very good debut.

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4.5 ⭐️ Put this one on your TBR. Took a couple of chapters for me to get into this one but then I couldn’t put it down. Thank your NetGalley for TBR

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This is the story of Sara, who comes home to Savannah, GA to take care of her father and has to face the family of the man responsible for a violent assault she endured. With her is her 9-year-old daughter, who was born as a result of the assault. Sara has to balance allowing her child to live in the world while protecting her from the powerful family who might want to take her away. There are many creative touches to the story—from a child genius who can’t wear watches to an old man who only speaks in verse. It’s a story about language and science and transformation and love. It’s about the power of forgiveness and how it can free us from wars no longer worth fighting. Harris has written a moving novel filled with big ideas, real people and beautiful language.

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I absolutely loved this story. My heart is almost bursting with joy and my brain is exploding with all the questions, thoughts, ideas, dilemmas, situations, and real-life issues which arose as I read, and which will continue to arise in my mind over and over again as I contemplate and discuss this book with others. This is not fiction, this and these situations arise daily in lives all around the world - this is real life - in your family, in my family, in the next door neighbour's family, in the world.. (I am Canadian, and that is how we spell neighbour - so it stays. LOL)

I loved the ending - I completely agree with authors who don't feel that books need to be tied up nicely with pretty little bows at the end; however, I do read from cover to cover, and for those readers who feel the need to 'tie it all up', make sure you read all the author's comments and acknowledgements at the end of the book. I, like the author, grew up in a little known spot, however, my spot was in Canada in a community called Greenmount. I attended a Grade 1-12 classroom with one teacher, and I read every single book that I could get my hands and eyes on. A library to me, at that point, was a 6 x 10 foot room, so you can imagine my delight when I entered a full city library.. Now, with internet, the world is our library.

Thank you to the author, Terah Shelton Harris, and to Net Galley and the publisher, Sourcebooks, for giving me the opportunity of reading this delightful and thought-provoking story. ..It is wonderful, indeed!

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Year Pub/Re Pub: 7/11/23

Book's cover: love it with H/h facing away from each other.

Format: Kindle

Source: Arc provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Page Count: 416

Book's Price: $7.99

Price I'd Value: same

Setting: Savannah, GA

Genre: Multicultural interests, women's fiction

Tropes: single mother, STEM, mentally abled

Standalone/Cliffhanger/Part of a Series: standalone

HEA/HFN ending: HEA

Epilogue Included: No

Character(s)POV Spoken: Dual POV's of H/h


Synopsis/Plot Summary: Sara and her daughter spend time in Savannah with her sick father, but ghosts of the past threaten to destroy her. David "Jacob" Wyler is from a privileged family, fallen from grace. Jacob wants to pick up the pieces and re-connect with his twin brother in prison, and his mother who he hasn't seen in 8 years.

M/F-M/M-M/M/F-etc: M/F

Contains Cheating: no

Contains Children: yes, Alana. Sara's 8 yr. old daughter, a genius. Has Lost Time (LT) notebook, obsessed with time and watches. Hates school and socially uninterested.

Flashbacks: yes, Sara and Jacob's family, how they dealt with the rape and trial

Jealy/Possy/OTT H/h : Jacob is OTT protective of Sara and Alana from the moment he meets them.

Amount of Sex In The Book: not much

Overall Smex Rating: 1


Hero: David "Jacob" Wyler

Hero Description: biracial, PhD in astrophysics, worked in Alaska for NASA. His twin brother in prison, he hasn't seen his mother in 8 yrs. Wants to mend relationships.

Hero Likability Rating: 5

Hero loves books/writing: yes, wants to be a professor.

Heroine: Sara Lancaster

Heroine Description: 26, teacher and poet. Living in ME, goes to Savannah to care for dying father, helps run his bookstore and confront past after 8 years.

Heroine Likability Rating: 5

Heroine loves books/writing: yes, a poet like her father.

Secondary characters: Hosea-Sara's father who speaks with poetry, Sylvia-Hosea's companion& mother figure to Sara. Daniel-Jacob's twin brother, Birdie-Jacob's mother, Tom-the Wyler patriarch(deceased), Naomi-Jacob's little sister(deceased)


OW/OM/Exes: Sara talks about the 2 men she has been with after the rape.

Cheating Before/During/Outside H/h Relationship: no

CONTENT WARNINGS/TRIGGERS: Rape (off page), suicide (mentioned only) and cancer.

AUTHOR OVERVIEW: Terah Shelton Harris-a new author for me


Overall Rating: 5

Do You Recommend This Book: yes

Will You Re-read This Book: yes

Would You Read More Books by this Author: yes

Favorite line: "There are questions we may never solve, no matter how much we want to."
-Jacob quoting his father's lines.

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This was an amazing story told with gorgeous prose with an almost mystical quality that I absolutely adored. To say this book is about forgiveness is an oversimplification. It's about the work of forgiveness and how it's more about healing the person who gives it than absolving someone of their wrongs. It's also about finding love and choosing love when it's hard or comes from an unexpected place. A phenomenal debut.

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Powerful. Haunting. Enchanting. Nuanced. Thought-provoking. Heart-wrenching. So many words to describe this gem of a book.

The biggest, overarching theme in this book is forgiveness, and I think it was done beautifully. I think she described beautifully how nuanced and complex it is, and that it is a long, arduous and ongoing process and journey.

I loved that despite the premise, and themes of hurt, loss and trauma, there were some incredibly soft and tender moments that showed love and affection (in all forms) between the characters.

Thank you to the publisher, NetGalley and author for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

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