This article was written by our summer writing intern, Kate.
There are few better feelings than lying down on the beach with a great book. Grab one of these current, satisfying novels and be prepared to lose yourself in their engrossing plots.
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
To be honest, I was a little skeptical about this book after glancing at the title. I mean, how can a lie be big and little? But the oxymoron reveals itself as conclusively fitting a few chapters into this delicious novel, which contains engaging, magnetic characters and a twisting plot that will keep your eyes glued to the page. The book takes place in a beachside town brimming with gorgeous blonde housewives, their tanned, wealthy husbands, and their bright, adorable kids – the kind of people whose polished lives only conceal deep insecurity and dark, sinister undersides. It teaches the lesson that cannot be taught too many times in this day and age, surrounded as we are by social media that professes the perfect lives of the people around us: everyone is fighting a battle. Beauty and wealth do not guarantee happiness, and the people who seem the most perfect and carefree often conceal the biggest wounds. Big Little Lies tackles domestic violence, sexual assault, beauty standards, and so many more pressing topics in a thrilling, emotionally astute, refreshingly authentic read with a jaw-dropping ending you’ll never see coming.
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Now, in my experience, there are romance novels, and there are amazing novels that just happen to have sweet, swoon-worthy romances. Me Before You belongs to the latter, and in my opinion, much better category. It’s at once a complex, weighty story about disability and a heart-melting, tear-inducing romance. The novel follows Louisa, a woman in her twenties who doesn’t take herself too seriously, leading a sheltered, unassuming life at home with her lovingly earnest parents and comfortable boyfriend Patrick, a triathlon enthusiast who can’t seem to commit – or tear himself away from the track. After losing her job, as a very last, unlikely resort, Lou ends up working as a caretaker for Will, a young paraplegic. Before the tragic motorcycle accident that left him unable to so much as feed himself, Will was a wealthy businessman and daring adventurer with a gorgeous girlfriend – the kind of man, essentially, that would never cross paths with Lou except possibly to check something out at a convenience store. But his accident has changed him irreversibly, and now their meeting is charged with possibility. The novel is bittersweet and heartbreaking in a sort of unassuming, subtle way, free of melodrama, making it all the more powerful. Don’t forget to pack tissues for the beach.
The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer
For all of us who were once (or still are) a shy student finding their way in a seemingly unconquerable world – especially for women – this book is for you. The novel’s protagonist, Greer Kadetsky flies under the radar in college, suffering sexual assault that is ignored by the administration, until a famous feminist activist, Faith Frank, comes to speak. Empowered and emboldened, Greer embarks on a long journey of gaining her voice. Greer is easily relatable and her earnest struggles and journey are easy to root for, but it is the supporting characters that really enrich the reading experience. From her queer best friend Zee, an activist left in the shadow when Faith overlooks her, to her boyfriend Cory, who suffers a horrifying tragedy in his family that turns his life upside down, these layered, compelling characters, coupled with the insightful writing make the novel a must-read.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Little Fires Everywhere takes place in one of those towns that is meticulously primped and polished to look as if nothing goes on. No one strays from the iron-clad unspoken rules, no one dares to subvert the expected. So when someone arrives who categorically breaks the cookie-cutter mold of a Shaker Heights resident, the result is explosive. Mia Warren, an artist with a mysterious past, enters with her teenage daughter, Pearl, and they cannot help but disrupt the carefully planned order with each breath. When a dramatic custody battle over an adoption erupts, the Warrens end up on an opposing side to Elena Richardson, their landlord who absolutely embodies the manicured, rule-following lifestyle Pearl and Mia reject. Will money and status guarantee the Richardsons’ victory? Will following the rules pay off? Or does no amount of order and planning truly prevent pain or loss? This emotional, engrossing read, full of enigmatic, morally grey characters will keep your eyes glued to the page.
The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
This book wasn’t released quite as recently, but it is so incredible I had to include it here. Boys in the Boat follows Joe Rantz, a dirt-poor teenager who was abandoned by his family at age 15, then worked tirelessly to get by and eventually join the rowing team at the University of Washington. There he faces bitter rivalries, a stone-cold coach, and grueling seasons in brutal weather to eventually end up on the boat that will represent the USA in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Joe and his boatmates are the very definition of underdogs. Their unbreakable spirits and trust in one another make them a spectacular crew and gives their races an inspiring, almost ethereal quality. Against immeasurable odds and coming from behind every time, these humble boys and their remarkable journey will make you grin and cry in equal measure.
Do you have any favorite beach reads? Comment below!
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