The serious business of fall is almost upon us: sporting events, social events, the acquisition of mums. Almost! But not today.
If you need one last summertime read, you might pick up The Girls, by Emma Cline – a smart, sexy novel that’s spent most of the summer on the New York Times bestseller list.
It’s the summer of 1969 and teenager Evie Boyd is bored, unhappy, and unsupervised. Her best friend has ditched her, and Evie falls in with a bad crowd. Worse – a bad crowd that lives on a derelict property under the influence of a charismatic, cult-like leader. You know where the novel is headed from the earliest pages: to the murder of innocents, Manson-family style. Cline’s examination of the power and danger of female friendship elevates this novel, as does her often arresting language.
If you prefer nonfiction, check out Jeffrey Toobin’s study of a real-life murderous girl in American Heiress: The Wild Saga of The Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst, currently in its third week on the New York Times bestseller list. Toobin makes a strong case for Hearst’s moral culpability: “Patricia Hearst was a woman who, through no fault of her own, fell in with bad people but then did bad things.” The Girls raises the same question about moral responsibility but offers a less definitive answer, making it an interesting novel to read alongside American Heiress.
In a word….
The Art of Travel, by Alain de Botton: clever!
Miss Jane, by Brad Watson: brave.
The Fishermen, by Chigozie Obioma: tragic.
The Odd Woman and the City, by Vivian Gornick: un-put-downable.
The Dream Life of Astronauts, by Patrick Ryan: lift off!
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