Tuesday, July 5
For Alicia Patterson, a daughter of wealth and privilege born in 1906 to a Chicago newspaper-publishing dynasty, life should have been about attending the best schools, having the best marriage, and producing heirs. Needless to say, it wasn’t. Book clubs will devour the story of this whip-smart woman’s life told by screenwriter Alice Arlen and New Yorker staff writer Michael J. Arlen in the wittiest of styles. Patterson herself would thoroughly approve.
Wednesday, July 6
The Great American Whatever, written and read by Tim Federle
Gentle guitar music sets the tone for this sardonically funny yet poignant coming-of-age novel about a budding 16-year-old gay screenwriter named Quinn Roberts mourning the recent death of his older sister, Annabeth, who collaborated with him on many film projects. Just as he did on his Odyssey Honor winners, the middle-grade showbiz charmers Better Nate Than Ever (2013) and Five, Six, Seven, Nate! (2014), Federle excels at reading the first-person narration, adding a zesty zing to the snarky one-liners and comical asides.
Thursday, July 7
The Best Man, by Richard Peck
Two weddings bracket this amusing and ultimately moving novel narrated by 12-year-old Archer. In the first ceremony, he’s a 6-year-old ring bearer suffering from an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction. In the second, he’s the best man, resplendent in his first elegant suit. The episodic story covers all six years in between, though it focuses on the last two: fifth grade (featuring “three different teachers and a lockdown with cops” at school) and sixth, which brings a death and a wedding in the family.
Friday, July 8
Small Great Things, by Jodi Picoult
Immensely popular novelist Picoult (Leaving Time, 2014) continues to tackle weighty subject matter in her twenty-fourth novel. Ruth Jefferson, a widow with a teenage son, is a labor and delivery nurse and the only African American in her department. When the infant son of two white supremacists, Turk and Brittany Bauer, who have specifically asked that Ruth not handle their child, dies suddenly, Ruth is blamed for the child’s death by both the hospital and the child’s parents.