Summer reads in review

The moving novel ‘Father’s Day’ captivates audiences (Courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers).

“Summertime, and the reading is easy…”

And easy the reading was, in bounteous sunlight with no worries about getting up early the next day for work. Here are my thoughts on just a few of the books I devoured this summer:

First up is “The Monsters of Templeton” by Lauren Groff. With a dauntingly thick plot that goes back and forth in time, this novel was compelling enough to read in one evening. A young Ph.D. candidate flees a disastrous romantic liaison with her advisor. She ends up home in Templeton, NY, living with the mother she had fled years before.  Pregnant with her advisor’s child and clueless about what to do next, she settles into the rhythms of her hometown, resumes a wary relationship with her uninhibited, spontaneous hippie mother and picks up threads of old friendships.

When a sea monster washes up on the shore of the town lake, she is drawn into the excitement and adventure surrounding the discovery. As the novel goes on, she learns more about herself and her past while slowly and painfully exploring her future. Despite being overwritten and too sentimental sometimes, the story is very intriguing and contains a believable story of self-discovery and redemption.

Next is “This Is Not Over” by Holly Brown. Another suspenseful all-night read, this novel tells the story of two women who engage in an escalating war of words over an online review of an Airbnb-like stay. As the war escalates, the women reveal themselves and turn out to be very different from the people they portrayed in their emails and postings. Both women begin to unravel emotionally as long-hidden issues and problems surface. While both have much to lose if their spat becomes public, they both feel they are in the right. Soon the urge to punish one another and seek revenge becomes stronger than their fear of discovery. Pared-down prose and a realistic build for a shattering finish make this an unforgettable read.

Of these three novels, “Father’s Day” by Simon Van Booy is my favorite. “Father’s Day” tells the charming story of a young girl who is suddenly orphaned and taken in by her uncle, the family black sheep. For her uncle, the transition from ex-con to guardian happens quickly following the tragedy, but the path to fatherhood is slow. Booy also explores family ties and memories by offering a tiny piece of background of these seemingly disparate souls in each chapter. This novel is a moving and evocative portrait of the families we are born into and the families we create.

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