I like to take a stack of books (anymore, a fully-charged Kindle) off to the beach and bake in the sun and catch up on everything I meant to read during the year. Haven’t had time to do that this year, so I’ve been fitting a few titles in around the edges. Here are three worth noting:
MURDERING MY YOUTH by Cady McClain
McClain, in case you haven’t paid any attention to daytime dramas over the last two decades or so, is an Emmy-winning actress best known for her turns as Dixie Cooney Martin on All My Children and as Rosanna Cabot on As The World Turns. She can currently be seen as Kelly Andrews on The Young and the Restless.
I’ve always liked her as a performer and I thought I’d pick this up because a generic soap star bio would occupy my brain and not require me to think too much. If that is something that you want, don’t read this book.
McClain tells an unvarnished tale of abuse, terrible parenting, getting over it, accepting what she can’t change and moving on. It’s often a harrowing tale, but it’s so well-written you have to check yourself to make sure you’re still reading someone’s memoir and not a Stephen King novel. And just when you think it can’t get any worse, McClain makes you laugh out loud. Sometimes the hilarious parts are downright uncomfortable for the reader and yet, you can’t help yourself.
This is a terrific, gripping read. It is NOT AT ALL what I expected it was, but it’s miles better. You should absolutely check it out.
THE PRINCES AND THE TREASURE by Jeffrey A. Miles
After McClain’s memoir, I needed some light reading, so I turned to the latest alternative kid lit, an adorable tale of two princes who go off in search of the kidnapped princess and end up falling in love with each other.
It’s a great little book and J.L. Phillips’ illustrations are terrific. It hews very closely to the classic white knight-saves-damsel-in-distress trope except for the fact that the white knights like each other. Diversity-minded parents will find this a good story and little boys will like it because there’s no kissing or other, you know, icky junk! (And if your little boys are so inclined, the princes are cute as can be!)
THE ART OF BREATHING by T.J. Klune
This is the third installment of Klune’s “Bear, Otter and the Kid” chronicles — or BOATK3, if you are in the know — and if you are into these books, you already love it, so my review is meaningless. And yet….
I resisted the original BOATK because I didn’t believe the hype and I was quite unconvinced that the debut work of an untested young novelist could be THAT good. Well, I was wrong. It was that good. It made me laugh until I cried and it made me straight up cry. It remains on my all-time greatest hits list.
I loved BOATK2 and eagerly awaited the release of The Art of Breathing. This one features an almost-grown-up Kid predominately and it has a bit of a different rhythm than the previous installments. Klune is verbose (like Bear) and sometimes I think he would be well-served with a serious editor. Still, it’s a damn good book and it comes highly recommended — with the caveat that you must read the first two installments first. I am sure there will be a BOATK4. You’ll think so, too, when you get to the end of this one!
NOTE: Click on any of the cover images to take you to their Amazon page to purchase.