Haven't we all been mildly miserable at work from time to time? Wondering why no one else appreciates the absurdity of the unironic jargon and duplicity of our coworkers? If you have ever felt this way, my friend Jessica Winter's hilarious debut, Break in Case of Emergency, is for you. The novel, which is out on July 12, follows its heroine, Jen, as she languishes in the nonprofit of a celebrity-slash-"philanthropist" named Leora Infinitas. The nonprofit's mission is something vaguely relating to "female empowerment" which no one can adequately explain. While Jen works at this soulless job, she's also struggling to get pregnant, and the personal and workplace plots are woven together beautifully. Read, cringe, laugh, relate.
I'm spending this summer reading about slavery and enslaved people's resistance. It is a heavy summer. I decided to pick up Isabel Allende's Island Beneath the Sea. It's a story about the Haitian Revolution. The novel follows the life of Tete, an enslaved woman on a plantation in rural Haiti who dreams of freedom for herself and her child. Tete is the heart of the book, but it also follows the lives of the man who owns her, his wife, their son, and others on the island. It's a story that traces how individuals become complicit in a crime as huge as slavery. We would like to believe that people are noble, that people are smart and brave. Tete is, at times, but what I love about this book is the continual reminder that people are merely people. They're foolish and weak and sometimes extraordinary. We live in a time full of similarly enormous crimes, but I read this book and it reminds me of the possibility of resistance.
Set in the summer of '69, Emma Cline's The Girls is an arresting re-imagining of the Manson murders, told through the eyes a young woman who finds herself enamored by a charismatic (but crazed) cult leader and his devoted followers. Narrated by the impassioned yet impressionable Evie, Cline's story is rooted in longing, self-discovery, and the timeless adolescent desire to belong. With each page, readers will find themselves, much like Evie, magnetically drawn towards the psychedelic mayhem of the family, gradually and willingly forsaking "respectable" convention. Cline's debut will make you question how far you'd be willing to go for love.