Discussion Guide for A Summer in Oakville

Discussion Guide for A Summer in Oakville, by Lisa J Lickel and Shellie Neumeier


Each of the four novellas comprising A Summer in Oakville is from a different perspective over nearly the same time. Each story builds on the others. Did the way the stories play out challenge or enhance your reading experience? Create or relax tension? Was there something you looked forward to in each tale?

A Summer in Oakville is a story about a typical American rural contemporary family with secrets and troubles. What was the underlying issue that brought everyone home? Which story and character did you relate to more and why?


Tessa tended to fill up her social calendar with events and nosiness meant to gain attention. What were some of her better qualities? Least likeable? Why do you think she felt the need to seek outside approval?

When Tessa refused to move away with her husband did you agree or disagree with her decision? What might have happened if she’d made a different choice? Do you think she might have let her nesting desires take over more of her life than was good for her? Have experienced a situation in which you had to make a difficult decision that went against reason? Did you seek and/or heed advice?

Lindsay went through graduate school then faced a series of setbacks. She was both headstrong and a little spoiled, and expected to work out any problem with simple sense and diligence. When something got in her way, what did she usually do? What did she need most? Did she get it? She wanted to help others. How was she like and unlike her grandparents and her parents?

Andy had a lot of anger stored up, despite therapy and a loving, if distracted, father. Was he unfairly punished for his behavior? How did he handle his exile? Ultimately, what mattered to Andy the most? Did he receive the care help he needed to learn to deal with his grief and wrath? How was he like and unlike his parents and grandparents?

Art seemed to take the easy way out of dealing with the deep pain of life and death by holding everyone on the edge of intimacy. Is it ever better to attempt to force someone to face his fears? What made him run away each spring? Was that healthy? How did he eventually face his hurt and guilt? When was Art finally ready to go home again?

The supporting characters, Grandma LuAnn, Grandpa Otto, Phil, Dana, Brandon and Josh Calloway, and Ella, had lessons to teach and to learn in the Trust, Faith, Pride, and Forgiveness departments. Describe the life lessons you most identified with.


What traits and lessons do/did you hope most to pass on to your children/family members?

A family has many definitions in today’s society. What makes a family, and what holds it together? What are some of the ways your family sticks together?