Summer Readin'

One of my favorite summer activities is sitting outside, preferably in a beach chair or on the back of my Dad's boat with a salty breeze in my face reading a great book.  Unfortunately, I've been in a rut filled with mediocre books since finishing The Secret Life of Henrietta Lacks back in April.  The streak finally broke two weeks ago, thus I have two books to share with you. 
The Girl's Guide to Homelessness, is a memoir by Brianna Karp.   Brianna's story started as a blog detailing her life as a homeless 20-something living in a Walmart parking lot.  From there, Brianna's story gained international attention and she was offered the chance to tell her story in book form.  Besides detailing her day-to-day life as a young, homeless woman the book delves into Brianna's troubled youth and the events surrounding her becoming homeless.  I was truly stunned by how quickly a smart, sociable, working girl like Brianna found herself without a place to call home and how hard it was to get back on her feet even with a job.  This book was an absolute page turner, I really enjoyed its great flow and humor.  It was also highly educational without being in-your-face or overwhelmingly informational, it maintains its memoir feel on every page.  As someone who knows little about homeless issues, I enjoyed Brianna's discussion of the issues and stereotypes surrounding homelessness and her personnel experiences with both.  Brianna is funny, relatable and most certainly lovable; I found myself routing for her on every page.  A wonderful story of perseverance!  


Vaclav & Lena is the debut novel by Haley Tanner about 10-year old Russian immigrants, Vaclav and Lena coming of age in Brighton Beach, NY.  Their tale begins through a chance meeting when they are 6 and goes on to describe their life as immigrant children pursuing their dream of having their own magical act.   Under the caring, yet watchful eye of Vaclav's mother, Rasia the pair struggle through daily life in America; school, homework, home life and their magic act.  Things are going (seemingly) well for Vaclav and Lena until one day when Lena mysteriously does not show up for school and is then not seen or heard from again for 7 years.  The story continues with Vaclav and Lena's lives apart and finally together again.  Throughout this beautiful story, Tanner writes about the strength and depth of secrets, childhood bonds and the magic of love.  Vaclav & Lena is wonderfully written with whimsical settings and magic(al) descriptions, sweet conversations between Vaclav and Lena and Vaclav and Rasia.  I really enjoyed this story and the gamut of emotions it will put you through.  

I just added a number of books to my list to read from here but be forewarned, these do not appear to be light and fluffy if that's what you're into for summer, and really, who doesn't love a puff piece for the beach?!  What are you reading this summer, I'd love to know!   


Angela said...

we just read One Day by David Nicholls for our book club. it was great! it's a British romantic comedy, so it's a good beach read, but with a little bit of substance, I thought.

these two books and that book Think! by Lisa Bloom from the HuffPost list look so interesting. I'll check them out!

do you use a Kindle?


I love the sound of Vaclav and Lena. Thanks for the recommendation, I've been bad and read NO books this summer. Eek.


Michelle said...

Thanks for the list of books! I'll probably add some of them to my list of to-reads. I've been meaning to read Half the Sky actually for a while now; Zeitoun is really fantastic; The Rape of Nanking is very sad and terrible to read about; The Glass Castle is funny, sad, and amazing all rolled into one; Freedom, I liked but I wouldn't say to put it at the top of your list; I enjoyed Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (yikes, foot binding!); and Room is what I'm reading next! Cinderella Ate My Daughter is the book on here that interests me the most.

Cara said...

Angela, I really liked One Day, I actually gasped out-loud on the metro at one point. I had a Kindle for three weeks and then left it on an airplane :( Michelle, wow you are well read, love it! I adored Room and reviewed it earlier this year.

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