I have reviewed my fair share of “summer’s best books” this year, and, while they are books that I love reading, I have found that they are my least favorite topic to tackle. First of all, they are reviewed by everyone—Amazon readers, your mom’s friend who just so happened to have read that book on vacation, the People magazine you grabbed in the airport before your flight…and, because of that, I don’t ever feel like I’m sharing anything new or useful. I much prefer digging up old books and obscure recommendations, but, during the summer, sharing the chick lit love is a necessary evil. So, without further ado, read on for three more contenders in the “summer reads series.”
Rich and Pretty
My favorite of the three, Rich and Pretty follows two childhood best friends, Sarah (rich) and Lauren (pretty) into adulthood. They have managed to maintain their friendship for two decades, but the grown-up version comes with a series of difficulties, differences, and strains. This book is for people (like me) who love atmospheric novels like The Interestings or My Brilliant Friend, and aren’t averse to somewhat slow-moving plots, who will take a realistic ending over a climactic, exciting one (that’s what I read thrillers for; when it comes to fiction, I’ll take a slow fade to black any day). While I acknowledge Rich and Pretty might not be for anyone, I tore through it and have to say—it might officially be my #1 pick of 2016’s Summer Reads Series (besides Belgravia, though I’m not sure it counts—more on that later).
The Singles Game
First and foremost, The Singles Game is about tennis. It’s by Lauren Weisberger, the reigning queen of chick-lit, who was responsible for one of the first chick-lit books I ever read, The Devil Wears Prada (my babysitter lent me her well-worn copy when I was in middle school, and I had to promise I wouldn’t tell my mom where it came from). Weisberger’s latest follows Charlie Silver, a promising professional tennis player, on her rise to the top. Charlie, from a small town in California, grew up playing tennis with the same coach since childhood—one whom she realizes she’s outgrown. Convinced she needs a boost to become a truly viable competitor in the big leagues, she employs Todd Felder, a “celebrity” tennis coach responsible for the success of a number of top five male players—and her tennis star rises almost instantaneously. Silver soon realizes that her newfound glory comes with (racket) strings attached. The book is signature Weisberger; glitz, glamour, unrealistic romance, and a minor revelation from our protagonist about the cost of her success. Nothing special, but a quick, easy one to carry you through LDW.
I had seriously high hopes for this one—the other week, I literally said to one of my roommates: “there needs to be a chick-lit novel about the campaign trail…maybe I should write it.” Lo and behold, I was perusing Twitter a couple weeks back, and I believe it was on the Fug Girls account (obsessed with their Royals coverage—a must-follow if you’re looking to Keep Up with the Cambridge’s) and saw that they were touting a new release by Jennifer Close (of Girls in White Dresses fame, though I never read that) called The Hopefuls. Close’s latest follows a young couple, Beth and Matt, who move to D.C. when Matt gets a job in the Obama administration. Beth hates D.C. instantly and Matt worries she’ll never settle in, until they meet Jimmy and Ashleigh, a young Southern couple with whom they instantly connect. However, when Jimmy leaves his own White House post to pursue a personal political career, the couples’ friendship—and Beth and Matt’s marriage—suffers in more ways than they could’ve imagined.
Despite—or perhaps because of—the punchy and promising book jacket synopsis, this book was the most disappointing read of my summer. Beth—the narrator—was insufferable: she complained at everything imaginable and lacked the redeeming qualities to compensate. What could have been a fun romp through an underexplored chick lit territory fell completely flat. Looks like I will have to release my own D.C. novel after all…