Almost thirty years ago, Rachel Hauck took a big risk—she began writing novels. Within ten years, she became a writer full time. Today, Hauck is a bestselling author who has published more than 35 books, most of which are Christian romances. Her storytelling style combines faith and hope to create tales that readers find comforting, heartwarming, and inspiring.
Hauck’s most recent novel, The Best Summer of the Our Lives, takes place in 1977 and 1997. The story follows a group of friends known as the Four Seasons—Summer, Spring, Autumn and Snow—and explores the themes of friendship, forgiveness, and faith.
Below, read an interview with Rachel Hauck about her newest novel.
On your website, you write that “When the disciples asked Jesus, ‘Explain what you mean,’ he answered, ‘Let me tell you a story.’” How does your faith impact the stories you tell?
RH: Since my faith is grounded in truth—who God says He is and who I am—I view the world through that lens. It helps me navigate life issues, relationships, goals, and dreams. I use the same approach with the stories I tell. “What truth will help my characters overcome their obstacles?” There are many truths that are universal, like the power of forgiveness, which a story can bring to life and touch the heart of the reader.
How did you land on The Best Summer of Our Lives for your title?
RH: Great question! My original title was The Summer of ’77. As I brainstormed the story, I laughingly decided to name the characters after the seasons: Summer, Autumn, Spring, and Snow. But the more I thought about it, the more I liked it. I just needed to make it work. As I developed the characters and the plot, “the best summer of our lives” kept coming up, and I felt it was a better title.
Though there’s romance in this novel, the relationship between Summer and her friends is just as important. What do you hope readers take away from reading about the friendship between the Seasons?
RH: In my life, I’ve learned friendships are fluid. They don’t stay the same. While we hold them dear, we also have to hold them loosely. The Seasons grafted together every inch of their lives without room to grow or change. When internal and external forces challenged them, they had to chart new territory. But their love for one another remained through time and distance. To me, that is the force that allowed them to heal and forgive.
I love the idea of Truth Night (even if it turns out to be more than the Seasons can handle). Is that something you did with your friends growing up?
RH: No, ha! I’m not sure my teenage friends and I could’ve handled a Truth Night, but it became a great tool in the story to bring issues to the table.
The power of forgiveness is strong in this novel. I think some readers might be surprised to see how quickly and fully some of the characters are granted forgiveness once they work up the courage to ask for it. Can forgiving others be as simple as it seems in this story?
RH: Forgiveness is a decision. You can forgive someone the moment they’ve wronged you—“I’m not going to hold that against you.” However, working through emotions and issues may take time.
For me, the years the Seasons spent apart enable that moment of “instant” forgiveness. They’d learned a bit more about life. They’d matured. Time heals wounds, softens the blows, and by the time the four of them reunited, they wanted to heal. The love they shared made a way.
As a storyteller, I had to have a fun, happy ending. 😊 They got on the same track rather quickly, but we also understood each woman was going back to her everyday life and it would take effort to reestablish the friendship they had as teenagers.
Autumn, Spring, Snow, and Summer each have particularly difficult trials happening in their lives in the summer of 1977, but Summer is the only one to have a spiritual experience with The Preacher (at least at first). Why did you choose to show her spiritual journey in that way?
RH: I wish I had some sort of profound answer for you, but it was a practical decision. With an ensemble cast, the spiritual or truth epiphany works best with just one character. I learned from my book Fifth Avenue Story Society how burdensome the story became with every character having a spiritual moment.
However, in one of the drafts, I did have all the girls at the revival tent. Each one experienced something different, but I could never carry the story through. It just felt awkward and preachy. And in real life, we all encounter God differently. Since Summer was the lead storyteller, I decided to give her the spiritual journey.
In 2018, Hallmark adapted your book Once Upon a Prince into a movie. What was it like to see your story put on screen?
RH: One word: wild! Okay, maybe a couple more: crazy, fun, overwhelming. A story that I made up while sitting alone in my office inspired movie makers! A cast and crew of sixty or so people brought it to life! My husband and I flew to Canada to be on set for two days. We were dressed up to be in the ballroom scene. I loved seeing movie making from behind the camera. The most striking moment for me was seeing my characters come to life and hearing the scenes set to music. I’ll admit, I teared up a bit.
What’s the last book you read that you wanted to tell the world about?
RH: I’ve been reading for research, so I’m not sure the world wants to read about the history of roller skating. Ha! So I’ll offer up a devotional book I love to read before bed: Growing In Prayer Devotional: A 100-Day Journey by Mike Bickle.
Download The Best Summer of Our Lives now.
The Best Summer of Our Lives
"Rachel Hauck sets the gold standard in inspirational fiction. The Best Summer of Our Lives is a nostalgic novel of friendship, romance, and the choices that define a life." —Brenda Novak, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author