Eight Great “Get Ready For Summer” Reads

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Yesterday was the last day of school for my girls, so it follows that today is the first day of summer break. As I sipped on a (diet) root beer, dreaming of the vanilla ice cream that should be in it, I started thinking about books that say summer to me.

Eight Great Get Ready For Summer Reads

We Were Liars by E Lockhart. All about an uber-rich family and their summer home on a private island near Nantucket, this one will remind you of all the fun summer holds, and how life isn’t always so perfect for the rich. I loved this book and all it’s surprises. Here’s the link to my review: The Power of Word and “We Were Liars” by E Lockhart

The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant. A historical novel told from an immigrant girl/woman’s point of view, this one covers all seasons, but the main character, Addie, spends her summers at the beach, and these are the turning points for her thinking and her life. Here’s my review and post: A Time When I Refused to ROCK and “The Boston Girl” by Anita Diamant

All the Summer Girls by Meg Donohue. This one is the story of three friends that grew up together, spending the summers on the Jersey Shore. Now in firmly into their adult lives, they have drifted from each other, but decide to come together for a reunion back on the shore. Suddenly back where it began, the three start to realize that their lives changed on one fateful summer night.

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C O’Brien. This one is a younger book, but it always says summer to me. Mrs. Frisby (a single mouse mother) must move her family her young family to their summer home, but her son is in bed with pneumonia and can’t be moved. BUT, with the help of the incredibly intelligent Rats of NIMH, she can get the job done. In turn, she can show her bravery and help them, and learn something about herself, her husband, and the Rats all at the same time.

Firefly Summer by Maeve Binchy. The summer of 1962 in Mountfern, a small Irish village. This is the summer when the world changes for the village and for pub owners Kate and John Ryan, and their children. When rich American Patrick O’Neill decides to open a large resort near the town, all are worried how it will change the quaint town. Sweet and Irish, this one will get you longing for an Irish vacation.

The Stand by Stephen King. This one will make you happy that your summer isn’t starting out with a man-made, highly lethal strain of the flu. Crossing America after the flu wipes out most of mankind, this book reminds me of summer, and how happy I am to be healthy (and it’s also why every summer cold freaks me out!).

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Summer innocence is shattered in this classic coming-of-age book–and it’s the reason I almost named my daughter Scout.

The Vacationers by Emma Straub. The story of a family traveling to Mallorca for a summer vacation, but also the story of a family coming to terms with turmoil, change, and heartbreak. A fun summer read, even if you aren’t lucky enough to head to Mallorca. Here’s my thoughts: The Little Brown Jug and The Vacationers by Emma Straub

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Eight Great Reads: Mothers & Daughters

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This morning I watched my (nearly) 12 year-old, sixth-grade daughter struggle with what to wear to school. She just wanted to wear a tee-shirt and shorts. But her tee-shirt was white, and she didn’t want her bra to show through (because, with everything else, she has to be embarrassed about wearing a very small, very training like, bra), so she was wearing a tank-top underneath. It’s going to be nearly 90 degrees today, so the layers are miserable, I’m sure. She put on denim shorts over tights, because she was afraid the shorts were too short. The dress code at her school states that shorts must be at fingertips when the arm is at their sides. Her shorts were about 1/64 of an inch shorter than her fingertip.

Then she decided she was going to be hot with both on, so she ended up just wearing leggings under her tee.

I was worried about what she was worrying about, and how shes getting to that age when she going to start worrying about what she’s wearing and what her body looks like. And I don’t want her to grow up with the body issues that I did. I was wondering how to go about telling her these things.

And then I read this wonderful letter by Jennifer Weiner to her daughters. It is perfect and embodies everything that I wanted to say to her this morning, and every morning.

Read the whole letter, please, but here is an excerpt:

My prayer is that you’ll never lose sight of yourselves—all of yourselves. You are so much more than just your looks. Your bodies are perfect, perfectly made and perfectly sized. You don’t have to waste years of your life fighting against them, or trying to fit someone else’s idea of beautiful (especially if that person is taking your money and whispering snake-oil promises about how if you only stick to this diet/cleanse/fitness plan, if you only get this injection/operation/painful piece of shapewear, you’ll look the way you should).

Jonathan Franzen has no idea what he was saying when he trashed Jennifer Weiner (If you missed that feud, here’s a short recap).

So, all that got me to thinking about Mother’s Day, and mothers, and, of course, mothers and daughters. And I’m always thinking about books. So, in honor of that, here are a few great mother/daughter reads in honor of Mother’s Day (and because I have daughters, and am a daughter).

Eight Great Reads: Mothers & Daughters 


Amy and Isabelle by Elizabeth Strout. The story of a mother and her teenage daughter, and their lives in a small town. When her overprotectiveness proves futile, Isabelle is at a loss. What do you do when your own, fierce love causes a chasm that can only be healed by fierce love. Beautiful, touching and real.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple. Bernadette is slightly crazy, brilliant, edgy, outspoken. But she is one of the fiercest mothers I read; ready to take on all comers, including her inner demons, to make her daughter’s life better.

Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight. This one is hard to read, but wonderful. The story of successful single mother Kate Baron, sifting through her daughters texts, emails, and social media to learn all she can in order to reconstruct her daughter’s life, trying to understand her death.

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. Kingsolver really gets the mother/daughter relationship, and I could put almost any of her books here. But this one is one of my favorites. Orleanna Price takes her four daughters and follows her missionary husband to the tremulous Belgium Congo of the late 1950’s. She and her girls navigate a new land, a revolution, and their zealot husband/father, who refuses to give up, even when all is lost.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. The story of family, and all it entails, but hidden under it all is the story of a mother unsure of what to do to make her daughter whole.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Yes, that book. A love story between two terminally ill teens, but underneath it all is the story of a mother and her terminally ill daughter. I read it as a mother, and saw the story through the mother’s eyes.

One Plus One by JoJo Moyes. Moyes knows how to get to the heart of emotion. In this book, she tells the story of Jess Thompson, a single mother trying to make life livable for her kids. Her daughter, Tanzie, is a math genius, and Jess is willing to move heaven and earth to get her the resources that will make the most of that talent. Beautiful, sad, and sweet.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. The story of Lydia Lee, the daughter of a Chinese father and American mother in the 80’s, trying to live up to both of their expectations. More of a cautionary tale, telling mothers not to pin their hopes on their daughters, but to let them find their own dreams. Sad and beautiful.

These all touched me, as the mother of daughters, and the daughter of a mother. Read, enjoy, and have a happy Mother’s Day!