Avid fiction readers are well aware of some of this summer’s noted bestsellers. Enthusiasm is high for Dan Brown’s latest thriller, “Inferno” and for Khaled Hosseini’s “And the Mountains Echoed.” But what about those less publicized titles that are equally promising? For your summer reading, I would suggest fresh alternatives including the following:
• “Crazy Rich Asians” by Kevin Kwan. Rachel Chue is flattered that her boyfriend has invited her to travel with him to his family home in Singapore for the summer. Little does she know, however, that he hails from an incredibly wealthy family. She is about to embark on an unbelievable encounter with wealthy Asians at play. The power moves and scandals make for lighthearted, hilarious reading.
• “The Silver Star” by Jeannette Walls. The author of the long-time bestselling “Glass Castle” now turns to fiction. Teenage sisters Bean and Liz Holladay are running short of options when their irresponsible mother leaves to spend time by herself.
The two head to Virginia where their mother grew up, hoping the extended family will accept them. But life is not easy, and the girls will experience profound changes in their new home.
• “Big Brother” by Lionel Shriver. Pandora and her husband, Fletcher, have drifted apart.
He is a weight-conscious cabinetmaker who bikes daily to stay fit, while Pandora is a plump wife who loves to cook. She is excited by her older brother’s impending visit but when she meets him at the airport, she is horrified to discover that the once-slim Edison has put on hundreds of pounds. Shriver’s latest novel is an exploration of family love, respect and obesity.
• “Aftershock” by Andrew Vachss. The crime is clear, a young high school girl deliberately shoots and kills a young boy. Local residents Dolly and her ex-mercenary husband, Dell, think there is more to this story than local law enforcement officials believe. Together they begin an investigation that leads them into dangerous brushes with long-hidden secrets and old crimes. What is it about this village that has hurt so many?
• “Looking for Me” by Beth Hoffman. Teddi Overman has a solid reputation as a restorer of antiques. Her life in Charleston is blessed with loving friends and a long client list. Life goes well until she discovers rumors that her brother Josh, who disappeared years ago, may actually be alive.
To alleviate her own questions about her missing sibling, Teddi returns to her childhood home in Kentucky. Naturally, she’ll have to confront hurt feelings and estrangements from her childhood.
• “Red Sparrow” by Jason Matthews. This contemporary spy thriller features a Russian spy, Dominika Egorova, who is directed to become a “sparrow,” or professional seductress.
Her target is CIA officer, Nate Nash, whom she is supposed to trap in a compromising situation. The plan goes well, until the two begin to fall for each other and the scheming takes on a breakneck speed. A good spy tale from a former CIA officer.
• “The Last Original Wife” by Dorothea Benton Frank. Leslie Abbe Greene Carter is an oddity. In a social world of powerful men who have all remarried younger, prettier and more vivacious women, Leslie is the lone original.
Feeling out of place and ignored by a husband who feels his marriage is a big favor to her, she determines to return to her childhood home in Charleston. What will she find there? She hopes it will be the promises of her youth but perhaps life has something else in store for her. A gentle tale of what is important in life.
• “The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope” by Rhonda Riley. This is an unusual love story. Shortly after World War II, recent high school graduate Evelyn takes over the running of a farm that belonged to a relative. In a field one day, she discovers what she believes to be a badly injured war veteran. As days pass, she nurses this individual back to health only to realize that “Adam” is not of this world.
He mutates into a kind and dependable man who becomes her husband and the father of her five daughters. A beautifully written tale of life’s joy and hardships.
For these intriguing books and other terrific, new titles, plan a visit to the library for some welcome summer reading.