With summer approaching, it is the perfect time to select some summer reading books to read on the beach or on the porch with a tall glass of lemonade. With the volume of homework you manage all year it can be hard to find time to read for pleasure. Remember the joy you get from reading a riveting story and not wanting to put it down? Our friends at Wellesley Books offer recommendations in a range of genres:
The Line Becomes a River by Francisco Cantu is part memoir of a border patrolman, part history of the US-Mexican border and part reflections on what it means to be human. Cantu gives us a real behind the scenes look at the dichotomy of border crossings: vicious drug dealers contrast sharply with desperate individuals who fork over life savings to escape persecution or be reunited with family. Cantu takes the job to gain practical knowledge after completing college but the grind and lack of humanity he witnesses takes a toll. After leaving border patrol, Cantu becomes embroiled in a personal border case and sheds even more insights on the plight of individuals trying to immigrate to the United States. Timely and thoughtful! For the socially aware!
The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner gives insight into life behind prison walls as well as the kind of lives lived that might land one there. Actually, many stories are bound together in this unique novel. A former stripper in for life without parole, a prison GED teacher and a dirty cop are the primary storytellers along with a host of colorful cell mates and acquaintances. The backstories are particularly interesting as there are so many commonalities regarding current social maladies: single parenthood, drugs, poverty, neglect and poor education to name a few. Grimly realistic and fascinating.
Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor. McGregor composes each chapter in this unique novel as a year in the life of a quaint English village starting with the year in which a tragedy occurs: its inhabitants, its wildlife, its weather. The continuity of certain rituals and nature’s life cycles contrast sharply with the changes taking place among certain members of the population. These changes are not always dramatic but over the course of thirteen years we get a sense of profound shift in many of the main characters. Sparse language and inference expose the deepest of feelings and relationships. In very few, but extremely well-chosen words, McGregor has given us deep insight into a variety of characters. Brilliant! For the English major and anyone who appreciates wonderful writing.
The Flight Attendant by Chris Bojalian is a fast-paced literary thriller that will not disappoint. Think alcoholic flight attendant in the wrong place at the wrong time who gets embroiled in an international espionage debacle. In addition to a good story, Bojalian weaves current events in and around the action to keep the story relevant and frighteningly realistic. For Thrill Seekers.
The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer is a well-timed novel weaving the history of the women’s movement through the narratives of four primary characters: a young woman who struggles to find her own particular voice, a young gay woman who pines for activism but finds an alternative meaningful path, a young man who turns out to be the epitome of a modern day feminist, and a leading women’s rights activist from the 1960s who learns the harsh realities of balancing idealism with reality. With humor and emotion, Wolitzer does a masterful job of exposing the perils of complacency and the need for women to continue moving forward as each generation leaves its mark. For anyone interested in the Women’s Movement.
Craig and Fred by Craig Grossi is a Marine’s story of deployment and transition back to civilian life with a twist—an Afghani adopted dog! Craig’s story moves between his time as an intelligence officer with a RECON unit in Afghanistan where he found a stray dog he named Fred to a cross country trip several years after Craig’s service with the Marines ended. Along the way we meet countless buddies who all impact Craig’s life including Josh, an Army Vet who lost a leg to an IED. Josh accompanies Craig and Fred cross country pushing limits and demonstrating how both men are determined to be identified as individuals first and vets second. Craig is exceptionally honest and straightforward about his initial denial, subsequent acceptance and final victory over his PTSD. A very compelling and enlightening story.
The Reason You’re Alive by Matthew Quick is an irreverent yet incredibly heartfelt story about a Vietnam vet trying to make amends and set his life right after waking up from serious brain surgery. David Granger is a seemingly crusty old, conservative, racist who has had one rift too many with his vegan, liberal son. Once you peel the layers, however, and learn about Granger, his friends and actions speak louder than his politically incorrect words. A great study in human nature and the need to know people for who they really are deep down inside. If you liked The Silver Lining Playbook—this is the same author and same sense of humor!