Five Favorites is a special feature at the LA Books Examiner in which our favorite authors share and discuss their five favorite books within a category. In this edition, Sarah Pekkanen, author of the critically-acclaimed debut novel The Opposite of Me, discusses her five favorite beach reads for this summer.
Five Favorite Beach Reads by Sarah Pekkanen
In my humble opinion, Tolstoy and Proust go about as well with the beach as sand inside of a bathing suit. When I’m stretched out on a towel, coated with coconut-scented lotion, I want to bury my sunburned nose in a juicy, fun page-turner. That doesn’t mean my five favorite new beach reads won’t make you think – because they will – but the deeper questions they pose are wrapped inside of a rollicking, purely pleasurable read. Just add a fruity drink with an umbrella, and even if you’re only vacationing in your backyard, you’ll swear you hear the ocean.
1) Best Friends Forever, Jennifer Weiner (2010)
Jennifer is the queen of contemporary women’s fiction, and this book shows why. It’s the story of two women who were best friends growing up, until a betrayal tore them apart. Now adults living very different lives, the women are reconnected by another crisis which launches them into an unexpected, Thelma-and-Louise-style adventure. Weiner’s trademark laugh-out-loud lines are woven in among deeply poignant scenes, and as the novel unspools, it reveals the complexities and joys of a friendship that will have women nodding in recognition. You won’t be able to put this one down.
2) The Island, Elin Hilderbrand (2010)
All of Hilderbrand’s novels are set on the beach – in this case, Tuckernuck Island off the coast of Nantucket – and Hilderbrand always tantalizes the senses with her rich, detailed descriptions of summertime living (warning: you’ll get hungry when you read this book, because one character is a gourmet cook and her meals are described in exquisite detail). The Island, which will be out in July, is perhaps my favorite of her novels. It’s the story of four women – a mother, her sister, and her two daughters – who spend a month together on isolated Tuckernuck. Each has a romantic complication – not exactly a new theme in women’s fiction – but Hilderbrand rises to the top of the genre with her mastery of tension and lush prose.
3) After You, Julie Buxbaum (2010)
This is another book about best friends, but in Buxbaum’s novel, one of the women dies unexpectedly and the other, Ellie Lerner, drops everything to travel to London and help her friend’s young daughter cope with the tragedy. It’s by turns heartbreaking and hopeful, and Buxbaum never takes the easy way out with expected twists – this novel surprised me up until its final, highly satisfying chapter.
Read the full list of five favorite beach books from Sarah Pekkanen, critically-acclaimed author of The Opposite of Me at Frank Mundo’s LA Books Examiner.