Happy Tuesday! I hope all my friends here in the U.S. enjoyed their Memorial Day weekend. I spent quite a bit of mine working, but my mom is in town so I’ve been with her a lot as well.
For all of us in the states, Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer. With that in mind, this week’s Top 5 Tuesday — a weekly meme hosted by Shanah at Bionic Book Worm — is all about summertime reads. I am excited about this topic, as summer is my favorite season!
This list will include a mix of books I’ve already read and books on my TBR.
“Flood” by Melissa Scholes Young
Laura Brooks fled her hometown of Hannibal, Missouri, ten years ago after a historic flood and personal heartbreak. Now she’s returned unannounced, and her family and friends don’t know what to make of it. She says she’s just home for a brief visit and her high-school reunion, but she’s carrying too much luggage for that: literal and metaphorical. Soon Laura is embroiled in small-town affairs—the contentious divorce of her rowdy best friend, Rose; the campaign of her twelve-year-old godson, Bobby, to become the town’s official Tom Sawyer; and the renewed interest of the man Laura once thought she’d marry, Sammy McGuire.
Leaving town when she was eighteen had been Laura’s only option. She feared a stifling existence in a town ruled by its past, its mythological devotion to Mark Twain, and the economic and racial divide that runs as deep as the Mississippi River. She can’t forget that fateful Fourth of July when the levees broke or the decisions that still haunt her. Now as the Mississippi rises again, a deep wound threatens to reopen, and Laura must decide if running away once more might be the best way to save herself.
I didn’t write a review of this one, but I wish I had. I loved the setting, as it’s one that’s vaguely familiar to me (I grew up not too far from Hannibal). The characters and story line were so relatable.
“Summer at Tiffany” by Marjorie Hart
Do you remember the best summer of your life?
New York City, 1945. Marjorie Jacobson and her best friend, Marty Garrett, arrive fresh from the Kappa house at the University of Iowa hoping to find summer positions as shopgirls. Turned away from the top department stores, they miraculously find jobs as pages at Tiffany & Co., becoming the first women to ever work on the sales floor–a diamond-filled day job replete with Tiffany blue shirtwaist dresses from Bonwit Teller’s–and the envy of all their friends.
Hart takes us back to the magical time when she and Marty rubbed elbows with the rich and famous; pinched pennies to eat at the Automat; experienced nightlife at La Martinique; and danced away their weekends with dashing midshipmen. Between being dazzled by Judy Garland’s honeymoon visit to Tiffany, celebrating VJ Day in Times Square, and mingling with Cafe society, she fell in love, learned unforgettable lessons, made important decisions that would change her future, and created the remarkable memories she now shares with all of us.
Another one I didn’t review 😦 I did give it five stars, if that tells you anything! Hart shares riveting stories of her summertime adventures in NYC at the end of World War II.
“Ragtime” by E.L. Doctorow
Ragtime is set in America at the beginning of the 20th century. Its characters: three remarkable families whose lives become entwined with people whose names are Henry Ford, Emma Goldman, Harry Houdini, J.P. Morgan, Evelyn Nesbit, Sigmund Freud, and Emilio Zapata.
It is a novel so original, so full of imagination and subtle pleasure, that to describe it further would only dilute the pure joy of reading. Turn to the first page. Begin. You will never have read anything like Ragtime before. Nothing quite like it has ever been written before.
If you’re looking for unique historical fiction that feels as American as apple pie, yet a little exotic, look no further.
“Summer of ’69” by Elin Hilderbrand
Welcome to the most tumultuous summer of the twentieth century! It’s 1969, and for the Levin family, the times they are a-changing. Every year the children have looked forward to spending the summer at their grandmother’s historic home in downtown Nantucket: but this year Blair, the oldest sister, is marooned in Boston, pregnant with twins and unable to travel. Middle sister Kirby, a nursing student, is caught up in the thrilling vortex of civil rights protests, a passion which takes her to Martha’s Vineyard with her best friend, Mary Jo Kopechne. Only son Tiger is an infantry soldier, recently deployed to Vietnam. Thirteen-year-old Jessie suddenly feels like an only child, marooned in the house with her out-of-touch grandmother who is hiding some secrets of her own. As the summer heats up, Teddy Kennedy sinks a car in Chappaquiddick, a man flies to the moon, and Jessie experiences some sinking and flying herself, as she grows into her own body and mind.
In her first “historical novel,” rich with the details of an era that shaped both a country and an island thirty miles out to sea, Elin Hilderbrand once again proves her title as queen of the summer novel.
Much has been written and said about that landmark summer, which now happened 50 years ago. It’s a fascinating era, one that I’ve never read any historical fiction from. This book comes out next month, and it looks so good!
“The Dry Grass of August” by Anna Jean Mayhew
In this beautifully written debut, Anna Jean Mayhew offers a riveting depiction of Southern life in the throes of segregation, what it will mean for a young girl on her way to adulthood–and for the woman who means the world to her . . .
On a scorching day in August 1954, thirteen-year-old Jubie Watts leaves Charlotte, North Carolina, with her family for a Florida vacation. Crammed into the Packard along with Jubie are her three siblings, her mother, and the family’s black maid, Mary Luther. For as long as Jubie can remember, Mary has been there–cooking, cleaning, compensating for her father’s rages and her mother’s benign neglect, and loving Jubie unconditionally.
Bright and curious, Jubie takes note of the anti-integration signs they pass, and of the racial tension that builds as they journey further south. But she could never have predicted the shocking turn their trip will take. Now, in the wake of tragedy, Jubie must confront her parents’ failings and limitations, decide where her own convictions lie, and make the tumultuous leap to independence . . .
Infused with the intensity of a changing time, here is a story of hope, heartbreak, and the love and courage that can transform us–from child to adult, from wounded to indomitable.
Here is another historical fiction novel on a subject and in a time frame that really appeal to me!
Have you read any of the books on my list? What are some of your favorite summertime reads?