It’s officially summer! If you’re one of the lucky ones you’re currently reading with your toes in the sand or while lounging poolside. If you’re only dreaming of a vacation, we have five wonderful summer reads that will take you far, far away.
Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan (Knopf) In Maine, author J. Courtney Sullivan (The Commencements) takes readers to a small beach house in Maine, a place infused with summer: outdoor showers, sand in every crevice of the house, and generations of Kelleher family history. When four Kelleher women arrive at the house at the same time one summer, all of the family grudges and resentments and hopes and dreams are riled up, as Sullivan crafts a multi-layered story of women and family and history and love.
If I Knew You Were Going to Be This Beautiful, I Never Would Have Let You Go by Judy Chichurel (Putnam) Chicurel’s debut reads more like a series of linked short stories than a traditional narrative novel, and it’s all the stronger for it. Set in the summer of 1972 in a small Long Island town called Elephant Beach, Chicurel’s stories center on Katie, who has just graduated from high school and spends this formative summer learning not only about herself but the world around her: the impacts of gentrification on the run-down town she calls home; the lasting and personal consequences of the Vietnam War on those she knows and loves; the ever-shifting role of family in a time and place poised on the edge of change.
The Vacationers by Emma Straub (Riverhead) What could be more vacation-esque (or staycation-esque, as the case may be), than a book titled The Vacationers? Emma Straub’s latest novel, following Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures, follows an American family’s two-week trip to Mallorca—and all the trials and tribulations that come with it.
Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter (Harper) Beautiful Ruins moves between a small town on the Italian coast in the 1960s and the Hollywood of today to give readers a tale of love, romance, and stardom. Though the story spans multiple continents across multiple decades, Jess Walter’s skill as an author is on full display in his ability to keep track of every detail and every thread of the story—and Beautiful Ruins is a testament to Walter’s sense of humor and his keen understanding of humanity at both its best and its worst.
Land of Love and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique (Riverhead) Yanique’s debut novel is set on the Virgin Islands, starting in the early 1900s the islands are transitioned from Dutch to American control and moving through to the 1970s. Land of Love and Drowning follows generations of one island family through the political and cultural upheaval on the islands in that time, with a nod to the history of the place and a tinge of magical realism that blurs the line between fact and fiction through the novel.—KERRY MCHUGH