Ah, the lazy days of summer, the perfect time to curl up in the sun on your favorite lounge chair and get lost in the pages of a good book. I’ll admit there weren’t nearly enough of those moments this past summer, but I managed to devour a handful of delicious reads. Here are a few of my faves:
Pax by Sarah Pennypacker
Youngest and I began this audio book on a nearly hour long trip to one of his soccer games. We were immediately hooked. Normally I’d continue listening alone, but he felt strongly that I wait for him to be in the car so that we could listen together. It killed me, but I love my boy and love that we had something to share. After we finished, he asked to borrow the CDs so that he could play them in his bedroom before he went to sleep. Hopefully there weren’t subliminal messages contained within because I’m relatively certain he listened to the book another four or five times. Pax tells the story of a boy and his abandoned fox, and it is beautiful and heartbreaking. I strongly recommend it for children (those able handle the painful themes of war, death, and loss) and adults alike.
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
Another excellent audio book, this one listened to during my work commute. It is a must for bibliophiles and those who enjoy rich character development. Somewhat of a spoiler alert (although the reason I stumbled upon this book in the first place) — there is an adoption story line that I felt the author handled well. I’m always on the lookout for books that take on foster care and adoption from a somewhat unique perspective, books that aren’t simply about a child searching for his/her birth parents but one that embraces the uniqueness of a family created not out of blood.
I’ve renewed my commitment to reading more with my boys at bedtime. Sometimes when life gets crazy we let that slip, but it is such a wonderful time to bond and explore literature together, especially with my twelve-year-old, who has entered the “Don’t mind me I’m just going to lock myself in my bedroom and watch YouTube videos all night” phase. We finished Postcards from Venice by the fabulous Dee Romito. It is a follow-up (but can be read alone) to her debut, The BFF Bucket List and equally sweet. Then we read one of my childhood favorites, and a must read for all those in the throes of adolescence, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. We laughed until our sides hurt at the part, “You must, you must…” (especially after I told him that yes, my sister taught me that chant when I was his age and I may have believed it could work. It didn’t. Also, if you have no idea what I’m talking about, well, then I guess you need to go read the book.)
Youngest and I read the third book in Todd McClimans’ American Epochs series, A Time to Heal. I recommend the series for elementary-middle schoolers who enjoy history and adventure. Then we read Project Mulberry by Linda Sue Park and are now about halfway through White Fang by Jack London. He saw the preview for a movie version on Netflix and we decided to read the book first (because you should ALWAYS read the book first). I’ve never read it before and perhaps should have given pause when I found it in the YA section of the library instead of juvenile. It is a wonderfully crafted book, but the language is a bit high for him and the content rather intense. We stop after particularly rough scenes to discuss them, and I’ve been using it as a way to teach difficult vocabulary in context as well as reading comprehension. Oh, the teacher in me.
A few other recommendations from my summer reading pile:
The Girl Before by Rena Olsen. Had a very Lifetime TV movie feel and was the perfect escape book for a day at the lake. (Warning: it does deal with a disturbing concept that may be difficult for some readers)
Every Little Bad Idea by Caitie McKay. Debut verse novel by my friend and editor. A wonderful book aimed at struggling readers that would appeal to teens experiencing first love (or those of us who remember our first love!)
If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo. Very well done book about a trans-girl trying to find her place.
I am still over two years behind on my TBR list, a list that is constantly growing because there are so many wonderful books out there! Fall is the only time of year when we have a reprieve from soccer, but scouts is in full swing, and hubby and I are both very active on the committee. Translation: time I could be reading and/or writing is spent organizing spreadsheets, planning activities, and sending emails. Alas, I love being involved in my sons’ lives and know that it will all end one day when they leave the nest.
(Of course I totally plan on being like the mom in I’ll Love You Forever and sneaking into their houses to read to them.)