dear mr. hemingway’s 2020 holiday books & pairings
The Festival of Fiction
Blue Summer by Jim Nichols (Islandport Press)
Cal Shaw stole my heart in Jim Nichols’ new book, Blue Summer. This is a raw account of one man’s journey to discover himself while making peace with his past. Heartfelt and gritty with prose that captures you from page one, this book is a true winner.
From the publisher: “At forty, Cal Shaw has seen better days, that’s for sure, but it wasn’t always like this. He grew up with his brother, Alvin, and his sister Julia, in the small Maine town of Baxter, confident in his own capabilities, especially regarding music. He took his happy life for granted, as lucky children often do. But everything changed when he was ten and his dad died in a freak accident. Soon, trouble, mostly in the form of a violent stepfather, found a home–his home. As an escape, the Shaw kids turned to music lessons with family friend Uncle Gus, but it turns out no one can escape the violence and grief that rains down on the Shaws. Blue Summer is the story of the Shaw family’s undoing, and Cal’s struggle to grow up in a world determined to break him. Even his music threatens to take him down with booze-filled nights and one-night stands. As Cal tries to make sense of his existence, living as far away from his family as he can, a snippet of melody comes to him–timeless and haunting. But before he can finish it, his past asserts itself with a phone call that Uncle Gus is dying and it’s time to come home and face an altogether different kind of music. In this story, author Jim Nichols writes a riveting coming-of-age novel that examines the melancholy fate of a boy torn apart by loss and domestic abuse, and the justice he eventually delivers, all the while writing a beautiful melody to counter it all, a song he calls ‘Blue Summer.’
P.S. Pair this book with some artisanal soaps from Cape Gold Honey. These soaps are to die for.
What I love about Backman’s new book (and all the rest of his books), is not only his talent for meshing together quirky and oftentimes struggling folks but that he knows how to truly find humor in the most unexpected places. From everyday life to the absurdities that are thrown our way, Backman will get you to smile.
From the publisher: “Looking at real estate isn’t usually a life-or-death situation, but an apartment open house becomes just that when a failed bank robber bursts in and takes a group of strangers hostage. The captives include a recently retired couple who relentlessly hunt down fixer-uppers to avoid the painful truth that they can’t fix their own marriage. There’s a wealthy bank director who has been too busy to care about anyone else and a young couple who are about to have their first child but can’t seem to agree on anything, from where they want to live to how they met in the first place. Add to the mix an eighty-seven-year-old woman who has lived long enough not to be afraid of someone waving a gun in her face, a flustered but still-ready-to-make-a-deal real estate agent, and a mystery man who has locked himself in the apartment’s only bathroom, and you’ve got the worst group of hostages in the world.
Each of them carries a lifetime of grievances, hurts, secrets, and passions that are ready to boil over. None of them is entirely who they appear to be. And all of them—the bank robber included—desperately crave some sort of rescue. As the authorities and the media surround the premises these reluctant allies will reveal surprising truths about themselves and set in motion a chain of events so unexpected that even they can hardly explain what happens next.”
P.S. Slide this book in a cozy fleece book sleeve by Literary Creations by Jenny for the perfect pairing.
I adored this book to no end. Traveling through the decades with Oona was totally my jam. I would relive the 80s any day of the week. This is a fun one for all.
From the publisher: “It’s New Year’s Eve 1982, and Oona Lockhart has her whole life before her. At the stroke of midnight, she will turn nineteen, and the year ahead promises to be one of consequence. Should she go to London to study economics, or remain at home in Brooklyn to pursue her passion for music and be with her boyfriend? As the countdown to the New Year begins, Oona faints and awakens thirty-two years in the future in her fifty-one-year-old body. Greeted by a friendly stranger in a beautiful house she’s told is her own, Oona learns that with each passing year she will leap to another age at random. And so begins Oona Out of Order…
Hopping through decades, pop culture fads, and much-needed stock tips, Oona is still a young woman on the inside but ever-changing on the outside. Who will she be next year? Philanthropist? Club Kid? World traveler? Wife to a man she’s never met? Surprising, magical, and heart-wrenching, Margarita Montimore has crafted an unforgettable story about the burdens of time, the endurance of love, and the power of family.”
P.S. Read this timeless book with a warm bevy in this literary mug by Jessica from Latest Book Crush.
Dear Mr. Hemingway’s 2020 Holiday Books & Pairings
This blog is a personal blog written and edited by me. My links are not affiliate links. I do not make compensation from my links. Some links may be in collaboration with a book store solely for exposure.