Summer Reads Recommendations

Summer Reads Recommendations: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon and The Museum of You by Carys Bray

Whether you’re enjoying the sun by lying on a beach, a pool, in your backyard or even your balcony…here are some awesome books to read during summer. The three books I’ll recommend are easy to read but although funny and light at times, all of them are serious books, dealing with difficult, sometimes heartbreaking topics.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

The heroine of this book is quirky and unlikeable. Although she has to fight the shadows of her past, Eleanor embarks on a mission to conquer the man of her dreams and she does it in her own unique way. This is a book which gave me major Ugly Betty vibes, as our heroine is undergoing phases of external transformation. Parallel with the transformation the bubble she’s been living in is falling apart, forcing her to face more than simple external transformations.

‘She had tried to steer me towards vertiginous heels again – why are these people so incredibly keen on crippling their female customers? I began to wonder if cobblers and chiropractors had established some fiendish cartel.’

This book will make you chuckle, and it may also make you cry a little bit. This is a book about love and friendship. It is about accepting another for who they really are and seeing past carefully constructed facades.

The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon

This book is set in a scorching summer and it is part mystery, part coming of age story. We follow two young girls, Grace and Tilly, who decide to spend the summer trying to figure out what happened to Mrs. Creasy, a neighbor went missing.

The book is taking place on the Avenue, a street which kept reminding me of Wisteria Lane from the TV series Desperate Housewives. The Avenue, as Wisteria Lane, is a tight-knit community, in which everyone knows each other, secrets are shared and kept and there is a common enemy.

I loved the writing. Joanna Cannon is a master at populating the Avenue with fully fleshed characters. I kept being amazed at how well-crafted her paragraphs were in which she described who these people were. And, like every great writer, in my opinion, she is not always telling us everything. She is great at hinting and showing, letting us draw our own conclusions and in a way feel like being a part of the story.

The disappearance of Mrs. Creasy has shaken up the neighborhood as everyone fears some secrets might come to light, and throughout the novel, we get flashbacks to the past, in which a house was set on fire. As the summer gets hotter and hotter, the adults’ behavior seems to become increasingly irrational. In contrast, the two young girls, are innocent witnesses, free of the judgment, prejudice, and herd-mentality which plagues the adults.

This book will make you smile at how innocent children can be and it will also break your heart as light humor masks tragedy and drama at every point.

The Museum of You by Carys Bray

Another book set in summer with a young female main character. This one is about Clover, who after a visit to a museum, decides to create her own museum. She decides to gather all of her mother’s belongings and through them tell the story of her parents and how she was born.

Apart from Clover’s perspective, the story is also told from the perspective of Darren, Clover’s father, who after the death of his wife, is trying is best to give Clover everything she might need while growing up. In his fear of depriving his beloved daughter of the best childhood possible, he refuses to throw anything away, as everything might come in handy at some point. This fear turned Darren into a hoarder and from the beginning, you see the magnitude of the problem when Clover starts decluttering and hiding the stuff in the neighbor’s bin.

Darren, in his fear of depriving her of anything she might need physically, has kept the only important thing from Clover, the memory of her mother.

This book’s fluff and cheerfulness masks loss and grief. It is a book about surviving the loss of someone and about moving on. I loved reading from Clover’s perspective, she is smart and optimist. Loved seeing the dynamic between father and daughter, how they are always thinking about each other and trying to do what’s best for each other. Out of the three, this is the one I would most likely reread.

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