Summertime means going to the beach. And for me, going to the beach means relaxing with a good book.
(Well, that’s what it used to mean. Now it means building castles with moats, jumping the waves with a two-year-old, and eating goldfish in the sand.)
But I won’t begrudge the rest of you who still are able to go to the beach and enjoy a book. I know I will have that again someday…in about 20 years.
For now, I will enjoy the books on my summer reading list at home on my couch. Or while taking a bath, if I can manage to stop dropping them in the tub. (That has happened twice in the past month. Sorry, library.)
If you are in search of books to add to your list, check out my reviews of the following two books:
Big Brother, by Lionel Shriver
I am a huge Lionel Shriver fan. I LOVED The Post-Birthday World (see my review here) and I found We Need to Talk About Kevin extremely gripping, but disturbing. Big Brother is Shriver’s latest novel. It tells the tale of 40-something Pandora, a successful entrepreneur living in Iowa with her husband and two stepchildren.
When her older brother Edison hits a rough patch, Pandora offers to let him come stay with her until he gets back on his feet. Edison is an accomplished jazz musician who has had small brushes with fame when he was younger, but now is more of a has-been.
Pandora hasn’t seen him in years and is shocked when she picks him up at the airport. Edison has gained over two hundred pounds and is unrecognizable. She struggles to deal with her brother’s size and finds that having an obese houseguest is more than her family is willing to deal with.
The book deals with weight/body image issues, but more importantly, it is about family. What does it mean to be a sibling? How far must you go to help your brother when he is at rock bottom? Whose responsibility is it to “fix” this situation? It is a very interesting look at how Pandora’s commitment to her brother’s recovery ends up affecting everything else in her life.
She Left Me The Gun: My Mother’s Life Before Me, by Emma Brockes
This is, coincidentally, another book about family. In this memoir, Brockes copes with her mother’s death by traveling to South Africa, where her mother grew up.
Brockes has heard tidbits about her mother’s childhood- how she lost her own mother at the age of two, then lived a difficult life with her father’s new family until escaping to London in her teens.
What Brockes didn’t know is just how difficult this childhood was. Through researching old court documents and talking to her South African family members, the author pieces together that her mother was abused by her father for many years.
This book is quite disturbing, as is any that deals with child abuse. But it also has moments of happiness, as Brockes meets long-lost relatives who share fond memories of her mother.
As she journeys to find out the truth about her heritage, Brockes discovers who her mother was and why. The mission gives her an appreciation for what an amazing woman her mother was, considering all she went through.
Next up on my reading list: And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini. How about you? What’s on your summer reading list?
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