Kenny Brechner here, with a ShelfTalker guest post. With summer on the horizon, and summer reading lists on our mind, we are fortunate that Summer herself agreed to share some of her list with ShelfTalker’s readers.
Kenny: Thank you for taking some time to visit with us on this Spring afternoon. You must be very busy with your advent just a month away.
Summer: I’m delighted to be here, Kenny. Thank you for relentlessly tracking me down.
Kenny: Sure. Now many people produce Summer Reading Lists, of course. Is it correct to see yours as a kind of platonic form concerning which all others are but shadowy reflections?
Summer: All I’ll tell you is that I do take into consideration my foreknowledge of the character of the season to come and the interrelation of book narratives within the larger story of the environment in which they will be read.
Kenny: Hmmn! Is there one book that you see as most capturing this upcoming season?
Summer: Absolutely! When considering new books and how they relate to summer I don’t think about them being set during summer so much as embodying important characteristics. For example, it was a long winter and a late spring this year and many people will be mindful of experiencing summer as something to hold onto, slow down, savor, and make last. That’s why The Glass Sentence by S.E. Grove is my top pick this year. It is so diverting and full of wonder that readers will want to slow their reading down somehow, not wanting the story to end. This is a terrific story of a talented girl whose parents have been lost while adventuring in a world in which time has taken on the role of being a physical form of natural disaster, causing the whole world to be fractured into different ages. Lead character Sophia is left to be raised by a highly interesting Uncle. You may be interested to learn that Sophia’s interest in exploration and adventure to find her parents is partly grounded in hard science and experience since The Glass Sentence‘s author actually is a refugee from our distant future.
Kenny: Amazing! That does make sense though. Any other noteworthy picks?
Summer: Knightley and Son is just the thing for smart kids looking for humor and characters they can relate to. It’s big fun and slips in just the right amount of depth, detective work, and fatuous self-help books that are pure evil. Summertime, with its inherent comfort, is a great time to be pulled a little out of that zone, and Half Bad is the book to do it. An amazing read. It affords the sublime fascinations of an alluring, unsafe narrator set in a deeply grey political landscape whose powers are determined to be black and white at terrible cost. Its readers find themselves carried and then swiftly captured in an irresistible current of intrigue and imagination as visceral as it is elegant.
Kenny: Totally agree. Not be shallow here, but what about a book that does have summer as its setting?
Summer: Cynthia Lord’s new book, Half a Chance, is my pick there. This warm and appealing story is meticulously constructed and balanced. It contains, for example, one age-appropriate moral dilemma, (and not 12), and a handful (rather than an avalanche), of internal metaphors. It also sports one finely rendered stroke of foreshadowing, characters with clear and true voices, and a single difficult topic, the onset of dementia in a beloved grandparent, which is thoughtfully explored. Great stuff in just the right measure for the 9 to 13 year old set.
Kenny: What about older, more mature teen readers? Are there any adult books coming out that will make great crossovers for them?
Summer: Well, The Bone Season, obviously. Now that it’s in paperback booksellers would be well advised to get some in the YA section straightaway. The Bone Season is a book of powerful characters and maddening secrets, and its resistence to hand those secrets out on a platter is indeed part of the book’s charms. Dive in, I say! In August Lev Grossman’s stupendously good Magician’s trilogy wraps up with The Magician’s Land. If you are only going to read one coming of age story this century that should be your move.
Kenny: Those are great choices! What about a backlist series that has been neglected but which has your name all over it?
Summer: Wereworld. I mean if you really could be entertained to death I’d worry about recommending it! One big scene after another, breakneck action, bold and unexpected plot turns, unbelievable fight scenes. No Ranger’s Apprentice fan should spend the summer without Wereworld. Get with the program!
Kenny: Awesome, thanks so much.
Summer: It was my pleasure.