If you like your summer reads to be intricately plotted, fast-paced mysteries with a good serving of suspense, try The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain. When Riley returns to her hometown of New Bern, North Carolina, to clean out the family home after her father’s death, she gradually comes to learn that everything she assumed to be true of her family’s past is not what it seemed. What is the real story behind her sister’s suicide twenty years ago? Dealing with family relationships and difficult choices, it should appeal to fans of authors such as Chris Bohjalian and Anita Shreve.
Also a mystery but with a totally different feel is The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith. When this first came out a number of years ago, I read it and did not see what all the fuss was about. But I was looking for a plot-driven story, and that’s not what this is. However, I recently reread it and found it totally delightful. In searching for more of a plot, I somehow missed all of the subtle humor and atmospheric descriptions. Precious Ramotswe, a proud resident of her beloved Botswana, is a woman with a big heart and clever mind who establishes the first female detective agency in that country. Sometimes it pays off to give a book a second chance!
The Gravity of Birds by Tracy Guzeman is a slower paced but captivating debut novel. The intricate plot is told through the point of view of various characters, and alternates between the past and present. Two estranged sisters were painted by a now well-known artist decades ago. The painter kept one part of the triptych and now has hired a art historian and an art authenticator to sell the painting, but first the sisters must be located. An art mystery that evolves into a family history, this book would be particularly satisfying for readers of literary fiction who have an interest in fine art.
Several staff members have enjoyed the young adult novel Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero. In fact, one even went so far as to say it was “the best book I ever listened to”! In chronicling her senior year of high school, sixteen-year-old Gabi Hernandez touches on the subjects of teen pregnancy, gays, and dysfunctional families. And one of the important themes is body image. Yes, the language used includes lots of swear words, but incorporates some poetry as well.
For those of you who enjoyed Tina Fey’s Bossy Pants, you’ll want to read Amy Poehler’s Yes Please. According to one staff member, this memoir is “even better,” and is filled with lots of material about the author, in the form of stories, thoughts, ideas, and even lists. Overall, it leaves you with the feeling that you’ve had a hilarious yet candid get-together with a best friend.