What to Read for the End of Summer
I am writing this in the hope that all of you readers are having a magnificent summer! I sure have.
The harrowing reality that summer may soon draw to a close is facing all of us. I am going to attempt to medicate you a little before it really starts to hit. In preparation, here are a list of books that will help you wind your summer down to a beautiful and, hopefully inspiring, conclusion.
- We Were Liars- E. Lockhart
If you haven’t heard of this lyrical masterpiece, then you should probably retreat out from under that rock. You, for sure, aren’t getting enough Vitamin D down there. (I thought that was really funny but Morgan didn’t agree).
I first read this book in 2014 the year it came out, as a recommendation from my high school librarian-Love you Ms. Wolfe! I had never heard of it before and came into it with no expectations not knowing that a few years later it would become a bookstagram sensation. In fact, I had no idea it was famous until I made this list. It was the first thing to come to mind.
The style is brimming with clever observation about people matched with a richly poetic style, that I haven’t forgotten in the three years since I’ve read it. Cadence is a relatable, well-developed female teen character, which we are all aware is a rare catch.
The premise of the book allows Lockhart to weave time in fluid waves around the protagonist. The blurring line between reality, fiction, and hope is evocative of all the uncertain nature of growing up-and the end of summer.
The ending will have you captivated, trying desperately to see through the tears to read the next line. It is heartbreaking and poignant, about the ugliest of humanity and the great beauty of growing up, and the evolution of friendship.
It is my highest recommendation on this list.
Publisher’s weekly blurb: Cadence Sinclair Eastman, heiress to a fortune her grandfather amassed “doing business I never bothered to understand,” is the highly unreliable narrator of this searing story from National Book Award finalist Lockhart (The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks), which begins during her 15th summer when she suffers a head injury on the private island Granddad owns off Cape Cod. Cady vacations on Beechwood every year with her mother, two aunts, and most importantly the other liars of the title: cousins Mirren and Johnny, and Gat Patil, the nephew of Aunt Carrie’s longtime boyfriend. The book unfolds two summers later, with Cadence trying to piece together the memories she lost after the accident while up against crippling headaches, a brain that feels “broken in countless medically diagnosed ways,” and family members who refuse to speak on the subject (or have been cautioned not to).
Buy it here: Id722276126
- “The Waste Land”+”The Love Song of Alfred J. Prufrock”-T.S. Eliot
It may seem odd to you that this second recommendation is not a book at all, or even a poetry collection. Rather, take it as a broad invitation to read any and all of his poetry. Here is your opportunity to explore things you read in high school with a better eye (and without the teen angst that probably meant you didn’t pay attention).
The end of the summer brings a juxtaposing blend of feelings. Colloquially, one might call it “Summertime Sadness” -Thanks Lana. These poems capture the duality of existing in the sweetness of summer freedom while its ending looms near.
Eliot’s poetry, as social criticism and an exploration of human transience, is perfect for brooding reflection on the ABSOLUTE unfairness of summer ending. The mirage of time slipping faster and faster out of your fingers – time flies when you’re having fun – is mirrored in the disturbing imagery of “The Waste Land.” Meanwhile, “The Love Song of Alfred J. Prufrock” serves as a reminder that whatever is ephemeral about humanity, whether that be summer; a relationship; or an emotion, is beautiful without having to last forever.
Sometimes when teachers tell you a writer is really good, they mean it.
Read “The Waste Land” here: 1321
Read “The Love Song of Alfred J. Prufrock” here: the-love-song-of-j-alfred-prufrock
- Eleanor and Park-Rainbow Rowell
I am SURE many of you have read this book, and for an obvious reason. Eleanor and Park is simply one of the best explorations of young love available. Through a revolving series of larger conflicts, the intensity of the care Eleanor and Park share transcends the extraneous, but apt, commentary on poverty, bullying, and gender.
The perspectives switch effortlessly, through the frustrating dullness of Park’s home life to the balancing act of Eleanor’s. From the beginning, it is like learning to speak the language of a new friendship with each protagonist. Reader’s learn the intricacies, frustrations, and desires of the characters as individuals. Then, as their personalities meld and their perspectives align, we see the coming together of two different people in an enviable understanding, empathy, and eventual willingness to risk everything for each others happiness.
This book evokes the desperation yet tenderness of young love. It lasts for a season and the circumstance of its resolution is bittersweet like the brightening of the trees into fall colors. Summer ends for us all, and this book is the perfect conclusion to a season of love or a regular old season.
Amazon Blurb: “Eleanor & Park reminded me not just what it’s like to be young and in love with a girl, but also what it’s like to be young and in love with a book.”-John Green, The New York Times Book Review
Bono met his wife in high school, Park says.
So did Jerry Lee Lewis, Eleanor answers.
I’m not kidding, he says.
You should be, she says, we’re 16.
What about Romeo and Juliet?
Shallow, confused, then dead.
I love you, Park says.
Wherefore art thou, Eleanor answers.
I’m not kidding, he says.
You should be.
Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits-smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love-and just how hard it pulled you under.
Read it here: 1250012570
- An Abundance of Katherines-John Green
And another book about love…. Guess you guys are getting a free insight into Mhairi’s mind today.
I fell in love with Colin from the first time I read him. His arcane knowledge of math and history combined with his humorous ineptitude with women hinders his quest to escape from his status as a child prodigy into adulthood. His quest to ‘mathematize” love is relatable for anyone trying to understand themselves before starting a new school year or a new season or a new job. He is everything that we see in ourselves, at the same time pitiful, endearing, and strong.
John Green, as usual, delivers fresh characters and an authentic voice. This summer-centered story is a departure from the more morbidly inspired recommendations above. It is fundamentally about the lasting impact of friendship, love, and even genius. Summer lasts forever in this book. Whenever things end, their effects refuse to, rippling down the channels of Colin’s life into the reader, in the hope we all share: that good things don’t always have to end.
Amazon Blurb: When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton’s type is girls named Katherine. And when it comes to girls named Katherine, Colin is always getting dumped. Nineteen times, to be exact. On a road trip miles from home, this anagram-happy, washed-up child prodigy has ten thousand dollars in his pocket, a bloodthirsty feral hog on his trail, and an overweight, Judge Judy–loving best friend riding shotgun—but no Katherines. Colin is on a mission to prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which he hopes will predict the future of any relationship, avenge Dumpees everywhere, and finally win him the girl. Love, friendship, and a dead Austro-Hungarian archduke add up to surprising and heart-changing conclusions in this ingeniously layered comic novel about reinventing oneself.
Read it here: 0142410705
- If I stay-Gayle Forman
I am recommending this book as a two part installment of art. First, read the book. Then, watch the movie.
This book manages to cover an astounding range of settings, characters, and emotions. Flitting scenes of Mia’s previous life are woven inextricably to her decisions viewing it from the outside. The tone is more poetic than you might expect for a YA. You could hate that, or you could love it. Choose for yourself; I don’t own you.
I do, however, guarantee that the romance will melt your heart. It is as captivating as Eleanor and Park, but of a darker, torrid sort. That love will leave you in pieces. The love Mia has for her boyfriend. The love Mia has for her brother. The love Mia has for the cello. This book is riddled with tragedy, and yet so saturated with love it is bursting.
This is on this list for the simple fact that you deserve an intense, twisting YA to cap off a summer of thrills.
Amazon Blurb: In the blink of an eye everything changes. Seventeen year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall what happened afterwards, watching her own damaged body being taken from the wreck. Little by little she struggles to put together the pieces- to figure out what she has lost, what she has left, and the very difficult choice she must make. Heartwrenchingly beautiful, this will change the way you look at life, love, and family. Now a major motion picture starring Chloe Grace Moretz, Mia’s story will stay with you for a long, long time.
Read it here: 014241543X
Thanks for reading! -Mhairi Cameron