top of page
Top of Blog
Exotic refreshing cocktails next to book and straw hat by the pool on vacation._edited.jpg
  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

One Summer in Savannah

Narrator: Zuzu Robinson

Tantor Audio

ISBN: 9781728265742

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Publication Date: 07/04/2023

Format: Other

My Rating: 5 Stars + (ARC)

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.

My Review


A master storyteller, Terah Shelton Harris's dynamic debut, ONE SUMMER IN SAVANNAH, is an exquisite winner out of the gate! A powerful, beautifully rendered, lyrical, thought-provoking, and character-driven bittersweet story of what it means to forgive and unexpected connections.

Can you ever truly forgive if you cannot forget?

"Forgiveness I've learned, is like a door. You can open yourself up to it or close yourself off from it at any time. We can't rewrite history or change the outcome. Life is a series of choices. And we live in and with those choices we make."

Two powerful words, "I'm sorry."

Sara Lancaster left her southern home of Savannah, Georgia, for Maine eight years earlier. Her daughter, Alana is a true gift; however, she was conceived following a sexual assault (Daniel). She is highly protective of her daughter. Alana has built her life around TIME.

She has stayed away to keep her daughter from her assailant's powerful family, the Wylers, a broken family.

However, when her father Hosea's health begins declining, she must return home to spend time with her father and allow him to get to know his precious granddaughter. By returning to Savannah, she is forced to face her past demons while protecting her daughter, Alana. Her attacker, Daniel, is in prison, and his identical twin brother, Jacob, left town years ago.

One day, while helping her dad out at his bookstore, Jacob walks into the bookstore. He is back in Savannah as well and sees Alana. Their two worlds collide, and they are drawn together in unexpected ways. Can they trust one another?

"Sometimes the worst thing that happens to us turns out to be the best thing."

Told from POVs— Sarah and Jacob. Sarah knew that every decision she had made led her to the place where she would untether herself from her long and painful past. Both these characters grapple with the idea of forgiveness as Jacob testified against his brother.

What a beauty! The author's writing is lyrical and heart-rendering, told with compassion, an uplifting book of hope, compassion, healing, grief, love, redemption, and forgiveness. I LOVED THIS BOOK!

I enjoyed the lyrical prose immensely, especially Hosea (dad), who only communicates in poetry. I adored Alana—a genius obsessed with time— with every wristwatch she attempted to wear stopped working and Jacob as her tutor—also a big fan of Sylvia.

Fully immersive, Terah delves into the circumstances which brought these well-developed, relatable characters together. How something so horrible can be something beautiful? Many symbolisms and metaphors of life with a thought-provoking takeaway. I bookmarked so many gorgeous passages.

When reading, I was reminded of Colleen Hoover's Reminders of Him —different, yet the characters are on opposing sides in somewhat similar circumstances (5 stars) on the road to healing and forgiveness. Fans of authors Patti Callahan Henry, Catherine Ryan Hyde, Fredrik Backman, and Elizabeth Berg will enjoy ONE SUMMER IN SAVANNAH.

I enjoyed reading the inspiration behind the book and loved the Acknowledgments and the dedication to dreamers! Aren't we all dreamers who imagine something more? Thank you! Well done—and yes, I could live in Forsyth Park as well—Savannah is rich in place, history, and character, and I also love The Fern Bank in Atlanta. I enjoy revisiting Georgia, where I lived and spent most of my media career before South Florida. The historic B&Bs in Savannah are tops.

"Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could be different."—Oprah Winfrey

I highly recommend ONE SUMMER IN SAVANNAH. Terah has been added to my favorite author list, and I cannot wait to see what she comes up with next! Her passion for poetry and books shine through Hosea's character—an ideal pick for book clubs and further discussions. Reading Group Guide included and A Conversation with the Author.

My top Southern/literary/upmarket book for July!

Thanks to Sourcebooks Landmark for a gifted ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Also purchased the hardcover copy.

@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

Pub Date: July 4, 2023

My Rating: 5 Stars +



"A natural pick for book clubs―there is plenty to discuss in this thought-provoking, moving story of forgiveness, unexpected connection, and the myriad ways people protect those they love."

― Booklist

"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

“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

“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’ 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 Weinstein, USA TODAY bestselling author of This Is Not How It Ends

“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

“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 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

“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

About the Author

Photo Credit: Sarah Willis

Terah Shelton Harris is a librarian and freelance writer, who now writes upmarket fiction with bittersweet endings. As a freelancer, her work has appeared in consumer and trade magazines including Catapult, Women’s Health, Every Day with Rachael Ray, Backpacker, Minority Nurse, and more. One Summer in Savannah is her first novel.

Terah has worked as a librarian for over 15 years. Chief among her responsibilities is the coordination of all aspects of adult collection development (print and digital) including: acquisitions, withdrawals, circulation, cataloging, and processing, ensuring the present and future optimal operation and function of the DHCLS’s technology and communications network (hardware/software), including DHCLS’s website, ILS, and OverDrive’s eBook consortium, SEADL. As a librarian, Terah has written and received over a half million dollars in local, state, and federal grants. She is most proud of her Wifi-in-the-Park project which provides free Wifi to over 200 acres of Westgate Park.

Originally from Illinois, she now lives in Alabama with her husband, Jamel. Terah is a lover of life and spends most of her time reading or traveling. A world traveler, Terah has visited over 40 countries across six continents. She has watched the sunrise at the beginning of America, trekked through the jungles in the Bokeo Nature Reserve, and searched for William Clark’s grave in St. Louis, and much more. WEBSITE







bottom of page