Summer Reads

Ava Soleibe, Staff Writer

The most highly anticipated release is almost here – summer break. Whether you can already feel a sunburn on your shoulders or have been counting down the days since spring break, it will be a severance of routine for all at IHS when the halls are empty (save for the incoming sunlight) once again. The sun-drenched days that give way to warm nights open ideal pockets of time for picking up the book you have been meaning to read but could not fit in between required reading for English or required binge watching of the latest Ted Lasso season. Many will work this summer and may be consoled by the protagonist in “Mary Jane” and her similar position. Or perhaps you will be artfully spending the summer within the beach read genre: fast-paced days in a haze of dreamlike wastes of time, the days in which Taylor Jenkins Reid has based her book “Malibu Rising” on, and F. Scott Fitzgerald went down in history for writing about. Potentially you will partake in Washington’s favorite cliché – a Patagonia-clad hiker haunting Tiger Mountain Trail all summer long, in which you need “She Explores” by Gale Straub in your life.

“Mary Jane” by Jessica Anya Blau is character-driven, coming of age, literary fiction set in a vibrant 70s summer, about one amiable girl’s nannying gig in a psychiatrist’s house as he treats a recovering addict rockstar. The book is reminiscent of Almost Famous, with the same fish-out-of-water trope; as Mary Jane navigates coexisting with Jimmy and Sheba (the celebrity couple she has only seen on television) I am reminded of William Miller’s crash course in music industry culture during his fever dream of journalistic research. “Mary Jane” is also for fans of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s Daisy Jones & The Six who were left craving more of the exhilarating, rock and roll centered narrative. The juxtaposing households (irking uptightness of Mary Jane’s home and the reckless abandon of the Cones’ where she nannies) creates a Montague and Capulet effect but of Mary Jane’s lifestyle, the duality of her budding personality promotes relatability. Morally grey characters explore imperfect parental relationships and how those roles can be fulfilled by other figures. Pages of frequent bikini shopping and popsicle runs, late night talking that is all too revealing, found family and rebellion feel like the sun on your skin.

“Malibu Rising” by Taylor Jenkins Reid is discord, tumult, and riot under the sparkling façade of the annual Riva family’s end-of-summer party. By the end of the night, majority of the partygoers will be arrested, the Riva mansion engulfed in flame, and the family irrevocably changed, but the story teasingly inches on, fluidly blending two storylines: Mick Riva and June Riva’s doomed romance in the 1950s, and their four children’s progression towards the glitzy disaster. In 1980s Malibu, all are mesmerized by the Rivas. Sacrificial oldest child Nina’s story is compelling as she picks up the pieces of a marriage marred by cowardice, tight-knit brothers Hud and Jay are in a predicament only one is aware of, and youngest Kit embraces newfound parts of her identity. The four Riva siblings unravel the truth about their parents, and cope through surfing; this book embodies the sunshine months.

Every summer, hydration packs are filled, trails are braved, and REIs are swarmed as residents of the Pacific Northwest emerge from hibernation and remember that Mt. Rainier exists. If this format is familiar to you, “She Explores” by Gale Straub is an essential read for day trip commutes. The collection of first-person essays, photography, and art depicting women’s experiences in the wild has the intent of inspiring others to seek the same, and encompasses themes of mental health, equality, conservation, and individuality. She Explores began as a site lifting up narratives traditionally suppressed in the outdoor sphere, and expanded into a community, eventually culminating in a book that is the essential textbook for moss girl summer.

Lana Del Rey approved, a mere 208 pages in length, and revered for decades by the masses, “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald deserves a spot on your summer reads roster. This book leaves everything to be desired, beginning with namesake character Jay Gatsby: an emblem of hope and a beacon of illusion. Narrator Nick Carraway pieces together the past as he details the illicit relationship spanning timelines between Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan (romance or deranged delusion, you decide). The epic prose of image-centric party scenes depict champagne towers, dance floors, and comments with poignant relevancy about social contract. Gatsby is jumping into pools (if you know, you know), Daisy is describing pink clouds above an ocean view, and Nick is feigning self-effacement as he somberly takes refuge under a tree and listens to the sounds of a summer night. This classic is fun until the end, a surefire talking point with the academics, and a superemely classy way to spend your plane ride.

Spend a loose moraled weekend on West Egg, swapping secrets with Gatsby, or rise with the sun to spend a morning on the waves with Nina. Give new people a chance like Mary Jane, and Gale Straub advises you to embark on a new trail. The adventure is sun-soaked and yours to dictate.