Nothing really says ‘summer’ to me like complicated narrative nonfiction about a child who was molested and murdered thirty years ago and the lawyer who grapples with her own painful past while trying to save him from a problematic death penalty sentence, am I right? No? Oh, yeah.
For some reason, I picked up The Fact of a Body: A Murder and Memoir in the middle of a hot and hectic summer last week and while it is fascinating and brilliant, I am also going to bed depressed every night after reading it and my genius recommendation would be to not ruin your vacation with the weighty issues of life and death and go ahead and wait for fall. More on that book later, but for some actual beach reads, I have two recommendations.
The first, of course, is from my girlfriend Elin Hilderbrand because hate-reading is a real thing and why wouldn’t I continue to buy and read books that make me insane? I cannot adequately explain why I like her books so much, it is beyond my grasp, but I do. Probably just the sheer science fiction of her stories wherein people are actually afforded redemption, love and happy endings when, lol, no. I also fantasize on a semi-regular basis about just selling everything I own and living on Nantucket, a place I have never been in my life, where I will presumably sell books to tourists and have love affairs with age-inappropriate men. In her latest, The Identicals, we are introduced to twins Tabitha and Harper who, after an egregiously unrealistic Parent Trap-type of childhood situation, have lived their lives separately with one parent each on Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. When their father dies they are forced to come together and deal with the things that drove them apart and their current messy lives and families. It is … not going to be nominated for a Man Booker Prize. Also? I loved it. I read it in 2 days with a stupid smile on my face and I highly recommend it.
The second is The Forever Summer by Jamie Brenner, which I can only assume was written from some sort of outline tool that Elin Hilderbrand probably sells on the black market like a less complicated Hero’s Journey Toolkit. Just kidding, it is not exactly the same. You see, this story takes place on Cape Cod instead of Nantucket. The Forever Summer is about strangers who find out that they are family via a DNA testing kit (which really cannot be a thing, right? This feels illegal) and come together at a time when they are all experiencing loss to get to know each other and Figure Things Out, as all angsty WASPs eventually must. The wish fulfillment factor in this novel is off the charts – can you imagine having a terrible time in your life and being able to just move to Cape Cod for the summer to lick your wounds? I almost got hives because of the persistent nagging thought in my head wondering why none of these characters just went online and paid their rent real quick. I mean, did they pay their rent while they were away? It will remain a mystery, but my bags are packed.
So if you are lucky enough to be headed on a relaxing vacation, or if you are completely stressed about the fact that you cannot go on vacation, these are my recommendations.
The Identicals – Grade B+
The Forever Summer – Grade B