Books to Read for the Summer That Make a Splash

Books to Read for the Summer That Make a Splash

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Reading is special because it can take you to places you’ve never been. More importantly, it can transport you to another place when you have to stay put for awhile. When looking for books to read for the summer, it might be a good idea to consider the following- what kind of a reader are you?

Are you looking for a really strong plot that will keep you riveted?

Perhaps, you like to fall in love with the characters or even like a story with some villains.

Others look forward to reading about faraway places.

Books to Read for the Summer-Start Here

I just closed the last page of When We Believed in Mermaids by Barbara O’Neal and I feel like I am in mourning. You know a book is good when it has you swimming in tears and stays with you for days after. This story might take a few days to shake off.

If you want to learn how to do a book club that everyone wants to join, this is a perfect pick for summer reading!

Setting is Surf Country

To begin with, I was enthralled with this book from the beginning because the setting takes place in two specific locales. The first is one I am well acquainted with, Santa Cruz, California in the U.S.A. There is something delightful and comforting about reading of spots you have been to as a child.

The second setting is in Auckland, New Zealand-a place I hope to travel to one day. This story persuaded me that I simply must get to this charming place one day. The author, Barbara O’Neal, effortlessly created the Kiwi vibe and made you feel like you had a clear picture of the culture, sights, sounds, and smells in this region.

Lots of Waves to Ride in This Plot

So what is the plot? Oh yes, plot! Forgive me-but the setting in this book carried me away and I found myself riding the waves of the plot points as if I was a daydreaming surfer chick. So what is it about? Essentially, a dysfunctional family, but this family has some grit, heart and soul. The rocky waves of life just carried them out past the shore for years and they are desperately trying to return to safe harbor.

Characters You’d Want to Hang With

When I went looking for books to read for summer, I was not prepared to fall in love with the characters of Kit and Josie/Mari. Kit is a thirtyish woman who fully embraces her inner nerd and is wholly devoted to her position as an emergency room physician in her hometown of Santa Cruz, California. Her cat fur baby, Hobo, is the love of her life. Sadly, there are not too many other loves in her life.

During the opening of the story, the reader learns that Kit is one of the Numb Ones. What are the Numb Ones, you ask? Kit’s one of those people for whom life has not been kind and she is simply going through the motions and trying to get through the day. The author provides some flashbacks that provide clues regarding the events that shut down Kit’s emotions.

There is one thing that makes Kit come alive and that is surfing! Kit loves every aspect of surfing and, whether she was riding the waves in Santa Cruz or Auckland, I felt like I was peeking through the porthole to learn about the nuances of surf culture. Now it’s easy to understand why surfing is a spiritual experience for those that love it so.

Too Many Losses Cause a Wipeout

Kit’s mother lives nearby and is really the only living relative around. It turns out that her father and foster brother died (don’t want to give away any spoilers), as did her beloved sister, Josie/Mari. Kit and her mom endured much loss.

The violent death of her sister from a terrorist attack is central to the story. Kit and her mom have been grieving the loss of Josie for years, but it turns out their emotions are complicated. Josie was a troubled and damaged young woman with serious addiction issues.

The Plots Swells

The action takes off when Kit and her mom separately see a news segment of a fire in Auckland, New Zealand. A woman in the background looks exactly like Josie. It turns out that Josie is NOT dead! Kit’s mom asks her to fly to Auckland and find Josie who now goes by Mari.

Why did Josie fake her death?

What is the reason that she allowed her family to believe that she died?

Is Josie living the Good Life or is she still a suffering addict?

Love Melts a Frozen Heart

As Kit arrives in Auckland, she ping pongs between feelings of anger and longing for her sister. While looking for Josie, she meets the love of her life. It takes a sizzling hot musician from Spain to melt Kit’s frozen heart. Although Kit finds Josie, the mystery of why she faked her death is still not solved.

As the story unfurls, flashback scenes explain the dysfunctional family history of Kit, Josie, and their mother. The overarching theme of the book is forgiveness. The people closest to us have the power to hurt us the most.

It’s human nature to try and avoid pain and suffering and we often think we can do so by simply refusing to feel anything. Kit must grapple with the sham of her life and come to the realization that the only way to feel love is to open her heart to her own vulnerability.

This story appealed to me because I cared deeply about these characters and what happens to them. The author’s realistic and compassionate portrayal of addiction, and how it ripples throughout a family, rang true to life.

I found myself rooting for the Bianci family and their quest to return to love. Family is complicated and Barbara O’Neal provides a poignant illustration of a troubled one in this contemporary novel. If you are looking for books to read for summer, you cannot go wrong with When We Believed in Mermaids By Barbara O’Neal. Just make sure you have some tissues nearby for the final chapter.

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