Summertime and the Reading is Easy: A Book List

School might be starting and summer might be fading but with these books you can hold out to that summery feeling any time of year.

  • Clarity by Kim Harrington: Everyone in town knows Clarity Fern’s family is uniquely “gifted” and that Clare is a psychic. But when a tourist turns up murdered, no one expects Clare to be key to the investigation anymore than they expect her older brother to be a suspect.
  • Girl at Sea by Maureen Johnson: Clio has the perfect summer planned. Too bad no one told her father. Instead of a perfect summer romance Clio ends up with . . . well she isn’t sure yet except that it involves her being on a boat with her father, an incredibly annoying assistant and her father’s new flame. Oh and maybe treasure.
  • A Little Wanting Song by Cath Crowley: Charlie Duskin lives and breathes music. Rose Butler is mad about science and she wants out of her nowhere town so much that it hurts. Charlie and Rose have nothing in common but by the end of the summer they might help each other get everything they’ve been longing for.
  • Sea Change by Aimee Friedman: Many are drawn to Selkie Island. Few know why. All Miranda Merchant knows is that the island, and the boy she meets there, are different. Miranda will have to sort through the facts, and the myths, to find the truth and maybe even her own happy ending.
  • The Secret Life of Prince Charming by Deb Caletti: Quinn has grown up in the shadow of bad relationships. Quinn already knew that her father wasn’t perfect. Charming, witty, fun Barry can also be selfish, irresponsible and vindictive. When she realizes that Barry has amassed trophies from every one of his ex-girlfriends, Quinn knows she has to take action.

This is only half of the list. For the other half, head over to The Book Bandit’s Blog.

The Secret Life of Prince Charming: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

The Secret Life of Prince Charming by Deb CalettiThe Secret Life of Prince Charming (2009) is the latest book from critically acclaimed writer Deb Caletti. Some have suggested that the cover art is misleading, suggesting to readers that they will find a peppy, romantic comedy type of book inside. If, however, the cover is taken more in terms of generalities, it is a perfect visual representation of this book’s core–a meditation on love, truth, family and, of course, relationships.

Seventeen-year-old Quinn has grown up in the shadow of bad relationships. She knows all the gory details of her aunt’s numerous breakups, the story behind her grandmother’s two collapsed marriages. Quinn and her little sister Sprout are also intimately familiar with their mother’s divorce from their father. Despite all that knowing, Quinn is still desperate for her father to be a part of her life.

Still, in order to combat all of those poor choices, Quinn has made herself into the responsible girl who makes good and wise decisions. That facade begins to slip away when Quinn starts to look more closely at her life and the objects that inhabit it. Quinn already knew that her father wasn’t perfect. Charming, witty, fun Barry can also be selfish, irresponsible and vindictive. When she realizes that Barry has amassed trophies from every one of his ex-girlfriends, Quinn knows she has to take action.

Such is the start of the road trip at the core of The Secret Life of Prince Charming. With the help of the half-sister she doesn’t know and the little sister who might see more clearly than either, Quinn sets out to right her father’s wrongs and return the objects to their rightful owners. What starts as a simple delivery mission turns into something more as each stop brings Quinn closer to the father she never really knew.

This book handles a lot of things in a masterful way. First and foremost the writing throughout the novel is, frankly, stunning. Quinn’s narrative is interspersed with snippets of advice from the women in Barry’s life talking about love and their own past relationships. In total this amounts to about half a dozen different narrative voices in one novel. The characters are all well-realized and truly unique.

Caletti also provides an interesting window onto the reality of divorce as seen by the children when no one is watching. Most of all, though, this story deals with what it really means to have an estranged father. Despite all of the evidence, Quinn loves her father and in many ways idolizes him at the beginning of the story. As the plot moves forward, Quinn is forced to address her mixed feelings for her father and acknowledge that the truth about him might be very different from the image she created over the years. (The idolization of father figures is not always something that makes sense to me but Caletti carefully examines the subject from all angles and integrates it well into the storyline.)

The Secret Life of Prince Charming is not a lot of things. It is not action-packed. It is not, in some ways, much of a romance. It is not fast paced. But this book is compelling and beautiful and highly recommended.

Possible Pairings: Take Me There by Susane Colasanti, How to Love by Katie Cotugno, The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen, Charlie, Presumed Dead by Anna Heltzel, Moonglass by Jessi Kirby, Drawing the Ocean by Carolyn MacCullough, Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta, Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford, My Big Nose and Other Natural Disasters by Sydney Salter, Absolutely Maybe by Lisa Yee