Ah, summer! It’s time for barbeque, beach, and, of course, books that bring us into the season. Here are a few notable ones:
The Great Gatsby: F. Scott Fitzgerald creates an atmosphere that is literally and actually stifling – a claustrophobic, sticky heat. In fact, the whole plot of Gatsby mirrors summer. Tension mounts with the temperature, and the denouement comes with the first chill of fall.
Nemesis: Philip Roth explores the effects of a polio epidemic on a small Newark community during the summer of 1944. By setting his novel in a season that should be fun and carefree for children, Roth manages to heighten the dark realities of polio for the children it struck: sickness, lifelong paralysis, and even death. Our own pandemic experience makes this very real.
Summer of ’69: Elin Hilderbrand welcomes us to one of the most tumultuous summer of the twentieth century. Every year the Levin children have looked forward to summer at their grandmother’s home in downtown Nantucket. But like so much else in America, nothing is the same: Blair, the oldest sister, is pregnant with twins and marooned in Boston. Middle sister Kirby, caught up in the thrilling vortex of civil rights protests and determined to be independent, takes a job on Martha’s Vineyard. Only-son Tiger is an infantry soldier just deployed to Vietnam.
As the summer heats up, Ted Kennedy sinks a car in Chappaquiddick, a man flies to the moon, and the Levins experience their own dramatic upheavals along with the rest of the country. In her first historical novel, rich with the details of an era that shaped both a nation and an island thirty miles out to sea, Elin Hilderbrand once again earns her title as queen of the summer novel.
To Kill A Mockingbird: Set in small-town Alabama, Mockingbird is a coming-of-age novel that chronicles the childhood of Scout and Jem Finch as their father Atticus defends a Black man falsely accused of rape. The book won the 1961 Pulitzer Prize and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.
Secrets Haunt The Lobsters’ Sea: I’ll end with one of my own, a novel that features lobsters, of course, and the rough and tumble nature of Maine’s signature fishery. Along the way, readers experience summertime sea kayaking among the states’ many islands.