Just for the Summer by Abby Jimenez – Discussion Questions and Book Club Guide

If your book club is looking for the perfect summer read that combines a swoon-worthy romantic comedy with discussion-worthy depth, look no further than Just for the Summer by Abby Jimenez. With equal proportions of laugh-out-loud and heartbreaking moments, this novel features complex family, friendship, and relationship dynamics and dives deep into the long-term effects of childhood emotional trauma.

Beyond this point, this post contains spoilers, as it is intended for those who have already finished reading the book.

Book Club Discussion Guide – Online & Printable Versions

Online Version

The post below includes everything you need to host or participate in a successful book club for Just for the Summer. From discussion questions and a character list to food and cocktail ideas, we’ll help you put together a wonderful gathering.

Printable Version

We also have an optional printable Just for the Summer book club kit to take your meeting to the next level. The fully customized version of the book club guide is designed for printing and includes the following pages:

  • A Character List
  • Book Club Discussion Questions
  • Quotes from the Book
  • Icebreaker Ideas Themed to the Book (with printable activity cards)
  • Printable Bookmarks for All Your Members 
  • Bonus Contextual Information and Resources to Help In Your Own Community
  • Themed Food & Drink Menu Ideas
  • Custom Designed Journal Page to Record Book Club Meeting Details
  • Themed Notes Page
  • A List of Additional Book Club Resources

Etsy purchases help The Book Girls continue to do what we do. However, there is no pressure to purchase; you’re always welcome to use any of the resources below for free!

Book Club Discussion Questions for Just for the Summer by Abby Jimenez

In addition to the Just for the Summer discussion questions below, we have a resource of 50 book club questions that work for any book. That post also provides tips for creating your own book club questions.

Similar to the flow of the novel, the discussion questions below start out more lighthearted and then dig into deeper issues. Read through all the questions before your meeting and select your favorites so you can prioritize them. Most clubs won’t have time for every question, so we want to make sure you get to those that best fit your group’s objectives or that you’re most excited to discuss.

  1. If you had a job where you got to choose a new city every three months, what would be your top three destinations?
  2. Which character in this novel did you most relate to and why? Which character did you worry about the most?
  3. What billboard/advertisement from your hometown would you least want to stare at outside your apartment window all day every day?
  4. Early on, Justin gives Emma a video tour of one of his favorite parts of Minneapolis. If you were to give someone a video tour of your hometown, what would you most want to show them?
  5. “Public proposals are hostage situations.” Emma is very against the idea of public proposals! Did you laugh along with this quip and agree with her, or do you love the idea of public proposals?
  6. Would dating be better with star ratings and reviews from exes? What about pre-date surveys and exit interviews?
  7. Emma is elated when she learns that her mom found Stuffie. Explain why you think it was so important to her. Do you feel a similar connection to any of your childhood possessions?
  8. When Amber first arrives, Maddy wants to warn Neil, but Emma disagrees. Whose side are you on?
  9. Discuss Emma’s attachment to her suitcases. How are her feelings related to her childhood trauma, and what role do the suitcases play in her life as an adult?
  10. “Not everything that comes out of a crisis is bad. Sometimes your traumas are the reason you know how to help.” How did Emma’s trauma help her help others throughout the book? Do you have any examples of this from your own life?
  11. Emma describes her coping mechanism of not letting anyone on her “island” except Maddy and her mom. What do you think is the impact of her narrowing her circle to two people who pull her in opposite directions?
  12. Compare the two islands in this book – the one where Emma is renting a home and the one in her heart/soul. Discuss Justin’s efforts to reach each island.
  13. Throughout the novel, Emma describes Justin as a “docking station for small vulnerable dependents.” Do you think every family/relationship has one person who serves as the docking station? Or is it better when this role is shared evenly?
  14. In an effort to help Justin understand his mom, Emma compares the effects of trauma to cracks formed by ice. Later, she describes the feeling of her heart cracking when she first recognizes that she might be falling in love with him. Compare the cracks caused by trauma and by love. How do they affect people similarly and in what ways are they different?
  15. Abby Jimenez is not only great at writing romance but also supportive friendships. Discuss the ways that Justin’s friends step up throughout this novel.
  16. Emma’s mom never revealed anything about Emma’s father and claimed they had no other family. “She took a broom and brushed the sand behind us so I could never look back and see where I’d been or where I came from. All I had was where I was going and I could never stop moving forward because of it.” Do you think you can ever truly know yourself without knowing where you come from? Have you ever felt this way about anything?
  17. Maddy is so familiar with Emma’s trauma and tendency to run that she includes tracking tags in Emma’s luggage. Is this her peak moment as a friend, or an invasion of privacy?
  18. At the end of the book, Justin gives examples of the best kind of love being small things and not grand gestures. He lists taking the end piece of bread so she can have the middle, making sure her car has gas, giving her your jacket in the cold, etc. What small gestures melt your heart and/or what small gestures like this do you try to do for others?
  19. Were you rooting for Emma and Justin to end up together throughout the book? Was there any point when you changed your mind on this?
  20. Did the Neil story line turn out the way you expected? If you had already read Part of Your World by Abby Jimenez, what did you expect to happen with Neil?
  21. Discuss the symbolism of roses in this novel. Examples include Amber’s perfume, the mural Amber is painting, the rose bush that Justin gives Emma, the roses carved into the banisters at Grant House, the stained glass windows at Grant House, and Daniel’s tattoos.
  22. If you could change one thing about the book’s ending, what would it be?

List of Characters in Just for the Summer

  • Emma 28-year-old travel nurse; she spent her childhood in and out of foster care
  • Justin – 29-year-old software engineer living in Minneapolis
  • Maddy Emma’s best friend and fellow travel nurse; her moms (Beth and Janet) became Emma’s foster parents when she was fourteen
  • Brad & Benny Justin’s best friends; Benny is also in Yours Truly by Abby Jimenez
  • Dog Brad Justin’s “ugly” Brussels Griffon that he named after his friend Brad because Brad moved in with his girlfriend, leaving Justin stuck with double rent
  • Christine Justin’s mom; accountant and former CFO who was caught embezzling from a non-profit and sentenced to six years in jail
  • Alex, Sarah, and Chelsea Justin’s siblings, ages 15, 12, and 4; Justin takes custody of them when his mom goes to jail
  • Leigh Christine’s best friend and Brad’s mom; helps Justin with his siblings
  • Amber Emma & Daniel’s mom / Neil’s girlfriend; disrupts their lives in different ways
  • Neil Emma and Maddy’s landlord and surgeon at the hospital where they work; begins dating Amber; ex-boyfriend of Alexis
  • Maria Caretaker of Neil’s property
  • Stuffie – Emma’s stuffed unicorn; one of her few cherished childhood possessions
  • Daniel – The half-brother Emma didn’t know she had until they connected via 23&Me; Mayor of Wakan; main character of Part of Your World by Abby Jimenez
  • Alexis – Daniel’s wife and Neil’s ex-girlfriend; doctor at the clinic in Wakan; main character of Part of Your World by Abby Jimenez

Just for the Summer Menu Ideas – Food & Drinks

Breakfast for Dinner

Justin and Emma enjoy breakfast for lunch on their first date and later spend many mornings together cooking breakfast for his siblings. In honor of their shared love of breakfast, consider serving a breakfast buffet.

Slow Cooker Meal

If breakfast isn’t your thing, how about a slow-cooker meal? During their early conversations, Justin tells Emma that two of his slow-cooker specialties are ribs and Buffalo chicken. Later Emma comments on his excellent Mississippi chicken recipe. Our friend over at Savory Experiments has an entire index of delicious slow cooker recipes to choose from.


Have you ever noticed that the characters in Abby Jimenez’s books are always ordering delicious treats from Nadia Cakes? That’s because Abby Jimenez owns the bakery, which has locations in Minnesota and California! She won Food
Network’s Cupcake Wars and was featured on two seasons of TLC’s Fabulous Cakes!

Good news – you can order a dozen assorted “Just for the Summer” cupcakes
from Nadia Cakes with delivery from Gold Belly!

photo of Nadia Cakes Just for the Summer cupcakes available for delivery with Gold Belly

Coffee Bar

During their early text converstaions, Emma and Justin tell each other their favorite Starbucks orders (salted carmel foam cold brew and triple carmel macchiato, respectively).

Set up a coffee bar with a variety of flavored syrups so that each of your guests can create their own perfect drink. We recommend using Caribou Coffee ground coffee since Caribou was founded in Minnesota.

Hardback copy of Just for the Summer by Abby Jimenez sitting on a counter by a coffee maker and flavored coffee syrups


If you choose to serve breakfast for dinner, then mimosas make a perfect pairing. You can go with the classic orange juice and bubbles combo, of add a strawberry syrup made with strawberries, mint, sugar, and water for a Sunrise Strawberry Mimosa.

When Amber first arrives in town, she serves Bloody Marys, which are another great option with breakfast.


Justin planned a date of wine tasting and antique shopping in the town of Stillwater, Minnesota, – home to the Saint Croix Vineyard. Unfortunately, their date got cut short.

If you are able to find Saint Croix wine from a local wine shop, it would make a perfect addition to your gathering. Otherwise, pick up a bottle or two of your personal favorite.

Just for the Summer Book Club Decor Ideas

We couldn’t decide which decor theme we liked best, so we’re sharing both and you can pick the one that works best for you!

Lake House Vibes

This novel left us craving a Minnesota lake house vacation, though maybe one a bit easier to access than Emma and Maddy’s island. If you fell in love with the setting as much as we did, then we recommend a few simple directions to capture the lake house vibes:

Everything’s Coming Up Roses

Roses play a special role throughout this novel. From Amber’s fading perfume and the mural she is painting (and repainting) to the rose bush that Justin gives Emma and they eventually plant to put down roots in his front yard. And then of course, there is the permanence of the roses carved into the banisters at Grant House, depicted in the stained glass windows, and even Daniel’s tattoos.

In honor of this symbolism, fill a vase with roses for the center of your table – we recommend a variety of colors to match the book cover! Then add these La Belle Rose Luncheon Napkins to your table setting for the perfect pop of happy color!

Quotes from Just for the Summer

We compiled a list of our favorite quotes from Just for the Summer, which make great talking points as part of a book club discussion. Be sure to jot down any quotes you highlighted along the way, as well.

You can read all of the quotes below, or if you prefer a printable version, the quotes are also included in our downloadable, custom book club kit for Just for the Summer. The kit also includes printable bookmarks featuring quotes from the novel.

Custom printable bookmark between the open pages of Just for the Summer by Abby Jimenez with a quote from the book that reads "Why not forgive? In a world where you can choose anger or empathy, always choose empathy."
  • “Who wouldn’t want to get hit by the love truck?” -Emma
  • “You can tell a lot about a guy by how they deal with rejection and getting their asses handed to them.” -—Maddy
  • “Why not forgive? In a world where you can choose anger or empathy, always choose empathy.” —Emma
  • “Sometimes the best way to show love or be kind to someone is to meet them where they are.” —Emma
  • “I’ve had a lot of bad things happen to me, Justin. I think sometimes the key to happiness is framing those things in a different way.” —Emma
  • “It was like there was no peaceful place to exist, no emotional safe space. I could have chaos, or I could have worry. I could be in the tornado, or I could be in the eye. But I could never be out of the storm. It was so, so exhausting to live this way and I had always lived this way because when it came to my mother, I didn’t know how to not care. I never felt calm except for the fleeting time her perfume was strong and I knew she was okay.” —Emma
  • “Maybe home isn’t a place. Maybe it’s a person.” —Justin
  • “I’m thinking that my mom takes a lot out of me. And that maybe she doesn’t leave anything for anyone else.” —Emma
  • “I became an island — and the island is small. I don’t need anyone. And I know that sounds sort of terrible, but it’s actually comforting to know that I have this ability to need no one. It feels like a superpower. Like I’m untouchable.” —Emma
  • “I don’t think you’re a horrible person. I think you went through something horrible and that’s who you needed to become to get through it.” —Justin
  • “Unhealed trauma is a crack. And all the little hard things that trickle into it that would have rolled off someone else, settle. Then when life gets cold, that crack gets bigger, longer, deeper. It makes new breaks. You don’t know how broken she was or what she was trying to do to fill those cracks. Being broken is not an excuse to do the right thing. But it can be the reason. And sometimes understanding the reason can be what helps you heal.” —Emma
  • “Maybe that’s why I was a good nurse. I had the gift of extreme empathy paired with detachment. I could deeply understand someone and anticipate their needs, but also never get close enough to them to feel it when they passed away or suffered or I moved on.” —Emma
  • “The chaos you grew up in! This whole life you’ve made – the travel nursing and the constant moving – you’re reliving your childhood… Doing it in a safe way you can control. You can slap the word ‘adventure’ on it like lipstick on a pig, but it is what it is, just another way to keep you from ever belonging to anywhere or anyone.” —Maddy
  • “Sometimes I feel like the seasons could come and go and come and go, a hundred years could pass, a thousand, the ground could collapse under us, this house could crumble and go back to the earth, and we would still be standing here frozen in time, because every second I’m with you is eternal.” —Justin
Just for the Summer by Abby Jimenez with three custom designed printable bookmarks featuring quotes from the book
  • “You cannot keep caring about her more than you care about yourself.” —Maddy
  • “But for Emma, I would make time. It wasn’t even a question. I would fit her into the complicated web that was my life. Because when you’re in love, you do hard things.” —Justin
  • “You’re not asking too much… You were just asking the wrong person. Ask me instead.” —Justin
  • “Maddy was like a first responder for my soul. She always had been. And even when I quit her, she didn’t quit me.” —Emma
  • “You are not what happened to you. You are what you do next.” —Maddy
  • “The love stories sold us the wrong thing. The best kind of love doesn’t happen on moonlit walks and romantic vacations. It happens in between the folds of everyday life.” —Justin
  • “This is the thing nobody tells you about The One. How they’re timeless. How the moment they pop up again you’re right back in it, right where you left off.” —Justin
  • “I’ve filled my cracks, I don’t want to be an island. I want a village.” —Emma


Can I get a printable version of the book club guide?

Yes! We have a printable version of this guide in our shop that includes bonus goodies, like icebreaker activities, printable bookmarks, and bonus context for further discussion.

Book Club Guide for Just for the Summer by Abby Jimenez

Is there a Just for the Summer audiobook?

Yes! The audiobook is narrated by Christine Lakin and Zachary Webber, who brings Emma and Justin to life.

Audible listeners rate the audiobook performance 4.8 out of 5 stars. Of course, as with all audiobooks, some people enjoy the narration, and others don’t. We always recommend listening to a sample of the audiobook before committing to reading in this format.

Do I need to read Part of Your World or Yours Truly before Just for the Summer?

Abby Jimenez published Part of Your World in 2022 and Yours Truly in 2023. Yours Truly is listed as book #2 in the Part of Your World Series.

While Just for the Summer is not officially listed as Part of Your World Series, readers of that series will enjoy the cameos from some of their favorite characters from the “Part of Your World” universe, along with other Easter eggs that tie the books together.

If you plan to read the other two books, you’ll likely enjoy them best in order of publication because the characters from the books are friends. In subsequent books, you’ll see how life turned out for earlier characters. Nonetheless, Just for the Summer can be enjoyed just as much as a standalone novel.

If you have other questions about the order of Abby Jimenez’s books, we’ll give you all the details about the connections between each of her books in this post.

Will there be a Just for the Summer movie?

There’s no word yet on a movie adaptation of Just for the Summer, but we think it would be excellent on the big screen. However, rumor is that another Abby Jimenez book, The Happily Ever After Playlist, is being adapted into a movie by Thruline Entertainment.

Are there other books like Just for the Summer?

If you enjoy Abby Jimenez, we think you’ll also enjoy novels by Katherine Center. All of her books are excellent and blend romance stories with deeper topics, but we recommend starting with The Bodyguard because it’s the closest match to Abby’s style. Additionally, don’t miss picking your next read from one of our curated rom-com and romance book lists.

We also recommend Emily Henry’s novels for fans of Abby Jimenez. Henry’s books draw upon many classic romance tropes, but, like Jimenez, she is also skilled at crafting realistic, three-dimensional characters with lives and challenges outside whatever romance they’ve found.

Stack of books featuring books by Abby Jimenez and by authors like Abby Jimenez

About Abby Jimenez

In addition to being a New York Times best-selling author, Abby Jimenez is also a Food Network champion.

Born and raised in California, Abby now calls the Twin Cities of Minnesota home. Abby and her husband first visited Minnesota on a cross-country trip and immediately fell in love – so much so that they moved there just three months later.

Inside back cover of Abby Jimenez book showing author cover and bio

After finding huge success with her bakeries (Nadia Cakes), Abby was ready for a new challenge. She loves romance novels, but had a hard time finding exactly what she wanted to read – “something that was funny, but also had depth.” That’s when she decided maybe she could write her own romance. Six books later, with Just for the Summer reaching #1 on the New York Times Best Seller List, we’d say that, yes, she can!

We hope you found this book club guide helpful!

As a reminder, you can get the guide in a print-friendly format for your book club meeting in our Etsy shop! Each purchase helps us continue providing great book lists and book resources here.


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