Pescosolido Library Summer Reading List

Pescosolido Library Summer Reading List

By Paula Kass, Director of Library Services

For many people, summer finally brings a chance to dive into some reading. There’s no shortage of new fiction coming in the next few months, so I’m sharing some books that I enjoyed across a number of genres and diverse voices. 

Banyan Moon by Thao Thai (June)
Debut author Thao Thai writes in a now common format of rotating chapters voiced by different characters — in this iteration three generations of women from a Vietnamese family. Minh’s story begins in Vietnam during the war and follows her to America with her children, Hu’o’ng and Phuroc. Hu’o’ng’s chapters reflect her struggle to connect with her own daughter Ann, both in the past and present, while Ann finds herself back in Florida with her mother after fleeing her current life and trying to decide what comes next for her. Banyan Moon is an excellent multi-generational story focused on women, motherhood, and the complicated relationships that families often find themselves in. 

Do Tell by Lindsay Lynch (July)
Edie O’Dare’s contract with FWM Studios in Hollywood is about to run out, and there’s not a lot for a young woman to do in 1939 California. She uses her quick wits and strong relationships with a lot of A-listers to parlay her low-profile acting career into a gossip columnist for a newspaper. Lucky for her, Hollywood is in the midst of a scandalous trial where Edie knows a lot of the main players — all of whom seem to make an appearance in the story. Do Tell suffers from this overabundance of characters; there are also a lot of other things including clothing, makeup, hair, etc. that may put off some readers. But, if you love glamorous Hollywood with all of the accouterments, under the fluff Lynch has written a solid novel about female power in an unexpected time and place.

Family Lore by Elizabeth Acevedo (August)
Elizabeth Acevedo — previously known for her YA work — makes her adult debut with the novel Family Lore which explores the lives and family history of a group of sisters and their daughters who emigrated from DR to New York. When one of the sisters invites the family to her living wake they all must come together and support each other. Acevedo has some serious writing chops that she displays often in Family Lore using an interesting narrative structure and well-developed, and memorable female characters. Readers who enjoy family sagas will love this novel that explores feminism, immigration, and Latina culture.

The Great Transition by Nick Fuller Googins  (August)
In The Great Transition, debut author Nick Fuller Googins delivers a well-built future world where The Crisis almost destroyed everything from fire and floods, but The Transition saved us. In the new present, Emi is a typical teenager — fighting with her parents, struggling to make friends, and managing an eating disorder. Her parents, Larch and Kristina, are famous figures from the Transition who fought for justice and then settled down to have a family, but secrets and danger threaten to blow their quiet existence apart. At times a bit clunky and preachy, but the message of climate crisis is real and packaged in quite a page-turner. The Great Transition delivers an exciting thriller with the soul of an environmental justice novel exploring themes of family, loyalty, and global responsibility that will appeal to many readers.

The House of Lincoln by Nancy Horan (June)
Eleven-year-old Ana Ferreira and her family arrived in Springfield, IL in 1851 from Portugal with the same dreams as most immigrants — to live free and happy lives. In The House of Lincoln, author Nancy Horan uses Ana to frame the pivotal years of U.S. history surrounding the Civil War. Following Ana and her relationships throughout her life enables Horan to explore many themes and events including racism, war, and reconstruction. The narrative also includes sections focused on Mary Todd Lincoln who Ana works for, and a black family Ana grew up with who were active in the underground railroad. Readers who enjoy historical fiction will find The House of Lincoln an engaging story about the Civil War period with interesting details about the Lincolns and Springfield.

Lady Tan’s Circle of Women by Lisa See (June)
Set in 15th century China and based on the real female doctor, Tan Yunxian, See uses detailed research and her imagination to paint a detailed life of a remarkable woman who manages to practice medicine in a time when most women of her class only saw the inside of two homes — first her father’s and then her husband’s. Yunxian struggles with the challenge of wanting to practice medicine while being the wife, mother, and daughter that society expects.  Lady Tan is filled with rich details about life in China, gives readers a complex character in Yunxian, and tells a story about women, family, friendship, and tradition vs. pursuing your passion — what more could a reader want?

The Road to Dalton by Shannon Bowring (June)
In The Road to Dalton Shannon Bowring gives readers glimpses into the lives of the inhabitants of the small, northern Maine titular town during the months surrounding a tragic event. Like any small town, the residents are all connected through friendships and relationships, and Bowring illustrates this beautifully with each chapter revolving around a different character but still linked to the other stories. Bowring’s concise but thoughtful writing makes every character and scenario feel familiar as she explores themes of family, marriage, and depression. Readers of Elizabeth Strout, Ann Tyler, and J. Ryan Stradal should definitely give this debut author a try.

Symphony of Secrets by Brendan Slocumb (May)
Brendan Slocumb returns to the music world with his second novel, Symphony of Secrets, which transcends the awful title to provide a very entertaining book. Kevin Bernard Hendricks, Bern to most people, reached the top of the music world with a lot of hard work and a beginning hand from the Delaney Foundation who bought him his first instrument. Begun by famous musician, Frederic Delaney, the Foundation represented everything right and good to Bern, and he revered Delaney’s music. When a lost opera of Delaney’s is located and the Foundation asks Bern to help prepare it for a performance, he has no idea the tangled web he is about to enter. Like Slocumb’s first novel (The Violin Conspiracy), Symphony jams together a bit of mystery/thriller, historical notes, music, and social justice themes to create a page-turning story that is sure to please many types of readers.

Tom Lake by Ann Patchett (Aug)
Leave it to Ann Patchett to write a perfect little pandemic novel that is really not a pandemic novel at all. Like many families, the Nelsons gathered together at home to wait out the spring and summer of 2020 when lockdowns and social distancing were the norm. The Nelson’s home happens to be a cherry farm, and as many of their workers are also staying home, the family must work through the end of the summer to harvest the fruit. Lara’s thrilled to have her three daughters home, but not so thrilled when they harass her for the story of her time as an actress and her relationship with a now-famous actor. Patchett intersperses these flashbacks with the modern narrative to give a fuller picture of Lara. With Tom Lake, Patchett gives readers a beautiful story about family and love as Lara tells her daughters the details of her life.

Yellowface by R.F. Kuang (May)
R.F. Kuang gets a lot right in her new novel, Yellowface, which takes a run at the publishing industry, social media, and AAPI racism. June Hayward struggles to make ends meet as a writer while her frenemy from Yale, Athena Liu, becomes a book-world darling with six-figure advances and Netflix deals. When Athena dies, June takes advantage of their friendship to forward her own career. I’m not a writer, but a lot of the industry mechanisms and messiness feel very real, as well as the daily struggles to write and find footing in a very difficult business. Overall, Yellowface gives readers a strong statement about racism, publishing, and the black hole of social media.