We’re hitting the lazy, hazy last days of summer, with school for the kids and regular work schedules for the adults on the horizon again, which means we gotta steal away as often as we can to catch some rays, drink some lemonade, go to the beach, and get all that summer relaxation time in while we still can. For me, this means chilling out and reading as much as I can in the sunshine. (As I write this, I am sitting outside with a frosty beverage and enjoying a hot-but-not-humid-and-therefore-perfect day.) So here are some of the books I’ve read and enjoyed so far this summer:
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
I’ve been reading a ton of buzzy YA books lately and these books are buzzy for a reason: they’re really well written, for one thing, and they really understand what their audience wants to see (more diversity, more heroines in STEM, more enlightened heroes, more dealing with what matters to them). When Dimple Met Rishi covers all these bases.
Teenage Dimple’s parents want her to become the perfect Indian wife one day, but all she’s interested in is creating a killer app at a summer coding camp to impress her tech idol. She doesn’t know that her parents have set her up with Rishi, the son of old friends of theirs, and that he’s going to be at the coding camp too. Rishi knows and is fine with their arrangement and jokingly introduces himself to Dimple as her betrothed. That goes over as well as you’d expect. They end up working together on their project and Rishi, who’s all in on the relationship immediately, helps Dimple accept her heritage rather than push it away, while Dimple, who takes a bit to warm up to him, helps him loosen up on his strict adherence to his parents’ wishes. Dimple is a firecracker and I love her, and Rishi is almost too perfect. A fun, sparkling read.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
An incredible debut by Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give tackles race and police brutality through the lens of a sixteen-year-old girl whose best friend is shot in front of her by a police officer. Starr tries to process her grief and her feelings about race and prejudice and her own sense of where she belongs – her primarily white private school or the neighborhood where she lives and that her father, a former gang member, desperately wants to save from further crime and violence – all while dealing with the media scrutiny over her friend’s murder. Starr’s voice in the first-person narration is honest and brave and complicated. Her parents are absolutely wonderful (surely it says something about how old I'm getting that I’m relating to the parents in a YA novel?).
The ending could have gotten really tricky to wrap up neatly and could’ve gotten preachy, but Thomas neatly deflects that and provides a satisfying finish. This was brilliant – I devoured it in two and a half hours, I was that engrossed by it.
Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai
Why, why, why was this released in the summer when it’s already a million degrees out? Reading this will only make things hotter. Livvy and Nicholas were high-school sweethearts whose families owned a grocery store chain together. After Livvy’s dad and Nicholas’s mom die in a car accident together, Nicholas’s dad tricks Livvy’s mom into selling her shares of the business, setting off a huge feud between the families. Livvy leaves town but texts every year on her birthday with coordinates to wherever she is so they can have one night together. After ten years and a missed birthday, Livvy returns home, throwing Nicholas’s world off. There’s a ton of trope-y goodness in here: that Romeo and Juliet forbidden love/enemy families vibe, love to hate to love, second chance romance. Alisha Rai has such a great voice, and I can’t wait to read the next in the series.
The Longbourn Letters by Rose Servitova
I read this early in the summer, but it’s a fun and funny read for JAFF fans. An epistolary tale of the friendship that develops between Mr. Collins and Mr. Bennet, mostly following the events of Pride & Prejudice. Servitova catches Mr Collins’ ridiculousness and Mr Bennet’s sly humour perfectly and reveals so much about their lives in their letters to each other. (The quirky townspeople of Meryton that Mr Bennet turns his sharp wit on are my favourite little details here.) She also shows through their correspondence how important the relationship becomes to both men. So charming.
Mendacity and Mourning by J.L. Ashton
This is a hilarious Pride & Prejudice variation in which misreadings, mishearings, and misunderstandings threaten the path to courtship for Darcy and Elizabeth. Conflicting gossip about Darcy and his supposed intended, the recently deceased Anne de Bourgh, swirls around Meryton, all while Darcy and Elizabeth are developing a friendship. When Darcy leaves town abruptly, Elizabeth is left wondering if Darcy was a grieving groom or a rake who plays with women. Meanwhile, Darcy has been called away by a letter from his “dead” cousin Anne, whose secret marriage to a flamboyant painter has resulted in a pregnancy and in her mother declaring her dead…to her. (Peregrine Dumfries is a brilliant comic creation.) Untangling all the misunderstandings that Lady Catherine’s declaration has caused and getting back to Elizabeth become Darcy’s mission. A madcap story with terrific frenetic pacing, dirty jokes, fruity metaphors, and sweet romance.
There’s more on the TBR pile and only so much summer left, so back to reading! What have been enjoying this summer?
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