While many of my colleagues and students spent their vacations near a pool or beach, my husband and I travelled to Amsterdam last week where we walked along the canals. My friends were definitely warmer. Amsterdam felt like late November rather than early spring, but the views and art museums more than compensated!
Later this week, I will post lots of book-related pictures from our trip. Today, though, I will tell you what I read during two very long flights and evenings while recovering from “museum legs,” which Urban Dictionary defines as “the aching legs one develops after a prolonged period of slow walking interspersed with standing still, especially when going round a museum or some other attraction where visitors are forced to be constantly on their feet.”
The Last Boy at St. Edith’s by Lee Gjertsen Malone
Jeremy is the last boy at St. Edith’s, a private school in Massachusetts that, after a brief attempt to become coed, has gone back to being an all-girls school. There are 475 girls – and Jeremy, whose mother works at the school where he and his sisters get free tuition. Jeremy knows his mother can’t afford the tuition at another school and St. Edith’s is much better than the local public school, but that doesn’t make it any easier for him. Jeremy’s only option is a misguided attempt to get expelled and to that end, he enlists the help of his best friend, Claudia. The two of them embark on a series of pranks that are not as harmless as Jeremy hopes. Along the way, Jeremy learns a lot about himself, his friendships, and the value of attending St. Edith’s. Malone’s book will be on Inly’s summer reading list – and I will begin recommending it to kids tomorrow!
Night at the Fiestas by Kirstin Valdez Quade
When we were in Santa Fe last year, we visited Collected Works, a wonderful independent bookstore. There was a display of a new book of short stories by Kirstin Valdez Quade, the author of Night at the Fiestas – and a notice that Quade would be speaking in the store the next night. We missed her reading, but I made a mental note of the book and when it was named one of the New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2015, I added it to my list. The ten stories all take place in New Mexico and each include razor sharp observations of the way cultures collide in a place where many people seek transformation. The title story is the one that had the greatest effect on me. Frances, the teenage protagonist, is taking the bus to Santa Fe for the annual fiesta. Like many young people on the brink of adulthood, Frances is seeking excitement and the promise of something beyond her life in small town Raton. Something does happen, but it’s not what she expects and the final scene made my heart ache for her.
Gorsky by Vesna Goldsworthy
Gorsky was my “beach book” for this vacation – and the perfect choice. It’s a retelling of The Great Gatsby that takes place in 21st century London and Gatsby is now a Russian gazillionaire! There are so many parallels with The Great Gatsby that reading Goldsworthy’s novel is like a game to see how many references you can catch. One of my favorites is that the object of Gorsky’s desire is a woman named Natalia – but her daughter’s name is Daisy! Such fun….
Pictures of bookstores in Amsterdam coming soon…..