When I was a kid, I read more during the summer than any other time of the year. School was out and the days stretched gloriously ahead of me. Of course I played outside a lot but when the Midwest heat got too unbearable, I’d hole up in my room and devour books. In honor of many summers past, here’s some of my favorite books that take place during those magical weeks when anything is possible.
The Night Swimmers by Betsy Byars
Part cautionary tale, part coming-of-age family drama, this is the story of siblings Retta, Johnny and Roy who into their neighbor’s pool to swim each night while their father, Shorty tries to reclaim his former glory as a country singer. Their mother is dead and since they’re new to town, they only have each other for companionship. Since Shorty’s a complete fail on the parenting front, Retta steps up and assumes way too much responsibility for her brothers. But she quickly learns, as I assume all parents do, that controlling your kids completely is a fool’s quest when Johnny makes troublesome new friends and breaks away from their group. How long can Retta keep them together?
The Summer Triology: The Summer I Turned Pretty, It’s Not Summer Without You, and We’ll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han
There’s a line that stuck out for me from the first book of this series: “It was the summer everything began.” I am a total sucker for a love triangle, and the more angst the better. Isabel (Belly, for short) is fifteen at the outset of the story. Each summer, her family visits the beach house of her mother’s best friend, Susannah, and her two sons. Up until now, the boys have never thought of her as more than just a little sister. You see where this is going, right? Something has changed since the previous summer and all of a sudden, Jeremiah is crushing hard on Belly, who only has eyes for his moody and disaffected older brother, Conrad. Did I mention that there’s also another beach boy, Cam, vying for her attention? These books really captures how complex and baffling it is when young girls become aware of their sexuality and the power that holds.
That Summer by Sarah Dessen
I have a huge author crush on Sarah Dessen. When I finish her books, I am nearly overwhelmed with both admiration and envy. This story was no exception. Haven is fifteen and undergoing a growth spurt that leaves her almost six feet tall. She is desperate to find her place in a world that won’t stop changing and often retreats into romanticized memories. Her practically-perfect-in-every-way sister is getting married and taking Bridezilla behavior to new levels. Haven is still reeling from her parents’ divorce when her father decides to quickly remarry. And just when her life couldn’t get any more unstable, enter her ex-boyfriend who causes her to re-examine everything she thought she knew about her past. This is a remarkable story about finding confidence and accepting yourself for who you are.
What are your favorite summer reads?