Grown-ups don’t have a summer reading list, unless it’s self-imposed because they belong to a reading group and have choices—something they might well enjoy. Not so with kids. Some kids have to read a book or two for school over the summer. Usually around mid August panic sets in. Time to read!
It was a rainy Sunday in August, 10 days before my family and I were leaving for vacation. I headed to a bookstore where I had a juicy gift certificate and wanted to get books the grandkids could read on the plane, maybe on the beach, and on the flight home.
I wouldn’t be buying anything for the oldest, 18, going off to freshman year at college. At orientation she’d been handed Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? — an important book by Michael Sandal and by early August, she’d only read half of it. The college stressed that students were required to read it … or else. “Hey!” I said, “You need to read the bloody book. I do not want to find out you’ve been thrown out of college on your first day!” It was futile for me to buy her any books. Onward.
The middle one, 16, is my reader. She asked if I could find a few books in my nearby library for her to read on the trip. (Their library did not have them on their shelves and neither did we. They were hot books.)
I wasn’t thrilled with her choices. One was Crank. I was afraid to ask what crank stands for. (Crack?) It’s written in free verse. On the back it reads, “Kristina is the perfect daughter: gifted high-school junior, quiet, never any trouble. (So far so good. MC) “Then she meets the monster: crank. And what begins as a wild ride turns into a struggle for her mind, her soul — her life.” Well, teenage literature sure isn’t what it used to be. But my theory is “If they are reading anything, they are reading. Amen.” Besides, Kirkus gave it a good review calling it, “Hypnotically sad.” So I found it for her at B&N.
She also wanted Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, whose book was a National Book Award finalist, and called it, “The groundbreaking novel that changed everything.” Wow. I was intrigued.
My youngest, 13, is also a great reader. She recommends wonderful books for me (Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper and Endangered by Eliot Schrader.) I know her taste in books. For her I found Peak by Roland Smith, which Booklist starred and called “A thrilling, multifaceted adventure story … A winner at every level.” It’s about a fourteen-year-old boy, Peak, who travels to Everest with his father, having only known New York City. When I told her I’d bought it for her, she said, “Oh dear, Grammie, you sent me that last year.” Oops.
My daughter reads sporadically, so I texted her, “Would you like The Goldfinch?” She knows how long it is, and texted back, “LOL.” That means Laughing Out Loud, true, but also, in this context, “Lots of Luck” getting her to read it.
If anybody in Recorderland cares, I bought The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Olympics by Daniel James Brown, and Erik Larson’s Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania. For me, reading and vacations go together.
As for the others? They were jet skiing or windsurfing the whole time. Books and water sports don’t mix. I don’t think they read a single word!
I still love them anyway.