Jennifer Weiner is the immensely popular author of novels like Good In Bed, In Her Shoes, and Then Came You — newly out in paperback — and she’s also a Bachelorette junkie who will be live-blogging Emily Maynard’s dating travails for EW.com tonight! In the meantime, check out her must-reads for this summer.
JENNIFER WEINER: I’m working on a piece about books that take on the topic of vacations — messy family reunions, escapes where women walk off the beach and into a brand-new life, long weekends where a bride-to-be meets her fiancé’s family (and his family compound) for the first time. These are all books I’ve read before, but I’m happy to revisit Kate Christensen’s Trouble, where a settled, successful Manhattanite takes a glimpse of herself in a mirror at a party and realizes she owes it to her reflection — this beautiful stranger — to leave her staid, boring marriage, sleep with a man she picks up at a bar, and eventually move down to Mexico. It’s wonderfully written, full of vivid details about tastes and smells and what it’s like to be totally out of your element, in a new place, and a new life.
After that, I’ll return to Anne Tyler’s Ladder of Years, where Delia Grinstead, a housewife from Baltimore (it’s Tyler — where else?) walks off the beach, in her swimsuit, with a tote bag and five hundred dollars, away from the husband and children who’ve taken her for granted, and off to wrestle with her own painful history, and make a new life of her own.
I read, for the first time ever, Beaches by Iris Rainier Dart, the novel on which the incredibly popular movie was based (which I guess means it’s responsible for incredibly cloying “Wind Beneath My Wings” — but I forgive you, book! I forgive you!) It’s the story of two women who meet as children on the Jersey Shore. Cee Cee is brash and in-your-face, with a pushy stage mother and a voice like…well, like Bette Midler’s. Roberta is pretty and refined, at once shocked and charmed by her new bestie. Beaches is the story, told in scenes that have the pair reuniting every few years, with letters to sustain them in between, of how the two of them grow up, falling in love and out again, having their hearts broken, being painfully estranged and ecstatically reunited. Parents die, marriages end, the action moves from New York and Pittsburgh to Hawaii and Malibu. Cee Cee gets famous. Bertie gets cancer. If you’re not crying by the book’s final pages, you might be a cyborg.
I also just finished Andrew Vachss’ That’s How I Roll, about a hit-man in a wheelchair, giving his Death Row confession — because I like to mix it up. I loved that one, and Stephen King’s The Wind through the Keyhole, a welcome return to his Dark Tower series. Those authors are two of my favorites, and everything they write is an automatic purchase. Next, I’m looking forward to Sere Prince Halverson’s The Underside of Joy, which comes highly recommended, Jen Lancaster’s Jeneration X, because she always makes me laugh. Oh, and I loved Sarah Pekkanen’s These Girls. Just when you think the single-girls-trying-to-make-it-in-media-in-NYC trope was totally played out, along comes a fresh, charming, moving take on what it’s like to be in your twenties, desperate for the guy to like you, for your secrets to stay secret, for this diet to be the one that works.