The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close. The Hopefuls tells the story of a young couple living in D.C. during Obama’s administration. Beth, the protagonist, follows her husband to our nation’s capital to pursue his political dreams and slowly (and somewhat painfully) learns to navigate the world of fierce competition, gossip, and shameless self-promotion. The novel doesn’t have much of a plot, but I couldn’t put it down. More than anything, it offers a honest portrayal of the day-to-day pitfalls and triumphs of a marriage. Really good.
Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple. I was excited to read this book because of how much I LOVED Where’d You Go, Bernadette? Unfortunately, this one didn’t quite live up to it. Sample’s writing is funny and at times a little wacky, but I just couldn’t find anyone or anything to connect with in this novel. It felt like it lacked direction and purpose. I still really enjoy Semple’s style, but I wasn’t in love with this story.
Small Admissions by Amy Poeppel. After getting dumped by her French boyfriend, Kate attempts to get her life back together by accepting a job in admissions at a prestigious private school in NYC. The novel explores the crazy competitive world of private school admissions for the wealthy elite, as well as the many complicated relationships in Kate’s personal life. There’s nothing exceptional about this book, but it’s an entertaining read with some quirky characters and seriously funny moments. I enjoyed it.
The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon. The Sun Is Also a Star follows the lives of two teenagers who meet by chance (or fate) and fall in love…over the course of one day. The catch? The protagonist is the daughter of illegal immigrants, and her family is being deported back to Jamaica that night. The book is charming and a little melodramatic—which I guess is appropriate considering that it’s written for teenagers. It also has a super sweet ending. If you’re into young adult novels, I would give this one a shot.
Eligible by Curtin Sittenfield. Eligible is a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice, which isn’t necessarily it’s crowning achievement. While it doesn’t compliment the original really at all, I thought the novel was cute and charming. It was a perfect beach read that I enjoyed while laying by the pool in Hawaii. But then again…how could anything be bad there? 🙂
Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler. I’m still feeling a tad bewildered by this novel. First, I typically love any sort of novel or memoir about food, restaurants, and cooking. I just find them fascinating. Sweetbitter is a novel about a naive twenty-something named Tess who leaves her life behind to start over in NYC and gets a job at one of the best restaurants in the city. The parts about food I loved. The rest was just bizarre. There didn’t seem to be any real narrative or direction. The main character (and most of the characters in the novel for that matter) is a mess and spends most of the novel in a drunken, drug induced haze. I just couldn’t get into it. But I have another food memoir on my nightstand that I’m pretty excited about…
Love Warriorby Glennon Doyle Melton. I just need to say something…I adore Glennon. She writes with a kind of honesty and vulnerability that I’ve never encountered in anything else I’ve read. She describes herself as a truth teller, and she really is…in the best possible way. Love Warrior is a memoir about marriage and infidelity and addiction and loss. It’s about finding God and yourself and learning to love another person without walls and stipulations. It is beautiful and painful and not for the faint of heart. I loved it!
The Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne. To be honest, I’ve been putting off reading this play. I LOVE Harry Potter, and I was afraid not loving this would somehow lessen the experience in mind. I was so, so wrong. This play is amazing! The story, set in the wizarding world of Harry Potter nineteen years after the last book ended, revolves around Harry Potter’s son, Albus, and his adventures with his best friend Scorpius. The plot was not what I expected at all—it was so much better! I don’t want to give anything away here, but if you love Harry Potter then you will love this, too. You even forget you’re reading a play after a few pages and just get absorbed in the story. Just magical. And it makes me want to plan a trip to London to see it live!
Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty. Ugh. I was SO disappointed by this book. I love Moriarty’s fiction, and her character development is usually fantastic. But this book fell way short for me. Truly Madly Guilty follows the lives of three couples who share a traumatic experience that connects them forever. The book was slow and anticlimactic, and the characters were painfully dull. I have loved every other Moriarty book I’ve read, but this one was truly unsatisfying.
Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist. It’s no secret that Shauna is my all-time favorite author, so I was really looking forward to this book (I preordered it months in advance). In Present Over Perfect, Shauna talks about letting go of hurry and busyness and giving up the quest for perfection in return for a simpler, more connected way of living. Her writing is beautiful, and her message is something we all need to heard. But I honestly just didn’t love this book….and it kills me to say that. It felt like less intimate, personal stories and more like self-help than her other books, and I just didn’t connect with it in the same way. I read it in small pieces—more like a devotional—instead of devouring it in one sitting like I have all her other books. Still a lovely, heartfelt book, but it just didn’t compare to Cold Tangerines or Bread and Wine for me….which you should go buy IMMEDIATELY if you haven’t read yet!
The Singles Game by Lauren Weisberger. I have a HUGE stack of new novels on my nightstand right now, so I have been flying through books. The Singles Game by Lauren Weisberger was an easy read, but it wasn’t my favorite book that she’s written. It follows the life of a professional tennis star as she comes back from an injury with a new coach and a new boyfriend. It was interesting, but I was never blown away by it. The worst part for me was the ending. It was one of those where you’re not supposed to care about the outcome of the final match because she found herself, happiness, love, blah, blah, blah. I just want to know who wins!
The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney. Obviously, this book has been huge for months now, so I was really excited to read it. The Nest follows the lives of four highly dysfunctional siblings living in NYC and the tension that surrounds them concerning the existence of (or lack thereof) the “nest” (i.e. their inheritance). At first I wasn’t sure I was going to like this book. None of the siblings are particularly likable, but I found myself addicted to their dysfunction. I cared about what happened to them and their relationships with one another. Sweeney is also just an excellent writer. By the last third of the book, I couldn’t put it down. And I loved the ending of this one!
The Weekenders by Mary Kay Andrews. This was your typical beach read—drama, humor, gossip, and just a little murder…all set on the coast! The Weekenders turned out to be pretty much what I expected…a fairly predictable storyline and average writing, but entertaining and fun for a casual day relaxing by the water.
Modern Lovers by Emma Straub. This book showed up on almost every single summer reading list I came across the past few months, so I was really anxious to see it. The novel follows the lives of six main characters, two adult couples and their teenage children. Their lives are woven together in a variety of ways, dating all the way back to their time playing together in a band during college. For me this book was just okay—not terrible, but not great either. I didn’t find any of the characters incredibly relatable or believable, and the story fell short for me, too. Overall, I was pretty disappointed, but there are still a lot of books left on my summer reading list!