Where the Crawdads Sing
Since the 1500s, the marsh lands on the coast of North Carolina have claimed many a shipwreck but also shaped survivors into the stuff of legend—like Kya Clark, the “Marsh Girl” of Barkley Cove. From 1952 to 1969, an abandoned child becomes a beguiling young woman who captures the imaginations of the town, the attentions of two young men… and the suspicions of the locals when a young man is found dead.
While Super Sad True Love Story depicted a dystopian near-future, for his follow-up Shteyngart ventures into the past: pre-election night 2016, and into the nostalgic childhood memories of hedge fund manager Barry Cohen. Fleeing his unstable marriage to a driven woman and his nonverbal son’s recent autism diagnosis, 0.1 percenter Barry hops on a Greyhound bus headed west, toward an ex-girlfriend and a lake whose cheeky name he once saw on a map…
One Night at the Lake
A family lake house is where indelible memories are forged… but not always positive ones. Chase’s atmospheric thriller alternates between two voices at the same lake house: Leah, visiting her boyfriend Ollie’s family’s vacation home with best friend June in tow—and, seven years later, June and fiancé Ollie returning to the lake house. Haunted by memories of Leah, June realizes she doesn’t know exactly what happened on their last trip together.
We Went to the Woods
After a reality-show faux pas gets her kicked out of her Ph.D. program, anthropology grad student Mack finds the perfect eccentric community to document: the Homestead, a renovated farmhouse in upstate New York, and its alluring foursome of aspirational survivalists. But as Mack becomes entangled in their politics and various love triangles—and neighbor-slash-commune-leader Matthew takes interest in their experiment—she begins to doubt the viability of escaping modern life.
Though Rufus Vincent’s marriage to Claudia Christie is a turning point in Porter’s debut, their relationship is just one of many in a multigenerational saga following two families—one white, one black—from the 1950s through the first year of Barack Obama’s presidency. From Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead as a guiding light in Vietnam to a black lesbian finding freedom in 1970s Berlin, this novel-in-stories depicts compelling portraits of the lives that led to this interracial couple’s future together.
“I went to the woods,” Henry David Thoreau wrote in Walden, “because I wished to live deliberately.” Similar deliberation spurs the lake-going adventures in these summer reads, from a long-anticipated family trip turned deadly to an attempt to live off the grid before the world itself goes offline. But while isolation might be transformative for the Marsh Girls of the world, the hedge fund managers seeking priceless nostalgia might find it less freeing. Whether you’re picking up a woodsy thriller or an engrossing family saga this summer, you’ll find that every action has a ripple effect.
Featured image: Elliott Chau