Turning pages is hard when you’re spending 20 hours a day in mittens. But March is here, and with it comes hope that we’re not actually living in a permanent Narnia winter. As you defrost, here are 4 sun-drenched reads to remind you that, in just a few months’ time, we’ll be happily complaining about the heat again:
The Last Days of California, by Mary Miller
This book takes place over the course of four long, hot days, which teen protagonist Jess spends eating junk food in the backseat of the family car, floating around motel pools, flirting with boys, and worrying about her pregnant sister, Elise. But this road trip has an unusual purpose: Jess’s family is decked out in King Jesus T-shirts and spreading end-times literature as they go, hoping to reach California before the Rapture does. It’s a road-trip novel with an engrossing twist, and it gets the summertime rhythms of a mobile, constricting family ecosystem just right.
The Black-Eyed Blonde, by Benjamin Black
It’s always high summer where noir novelist Raymond Chandler’s most famous character is concerned. Chandler’s private dick Philip Marlowe is resurrected in this Los Angeles noir, sweating through his suit in high and low places, led on by a hard-nosed blonde who says she’s looking for a missing lover. Everything’s more complicated than it first appears, so don’t get distracted by all those ice-cold beers Marlowe downs in breezy bars.
Panic, by Lauren Oliver
Oliver’s latest opens in the first days of summer in small-town New York, with a group of graduating seniors plunging from rocky heights into a swimming hole. This timeworn summer tradition has a sinister undercurrent: by jumping, the teens are declaring their enlistment in a yearly tradition called Panic, a “game” involving increasingly dangerous dares, with a winner-takes-all pot big enough to double as a ticket out of town. While not a relaxing read, it’s engrossing enough to make you believe for a moment that you’re somewhere rural in mid-July, not stuck in late winter with the rest of us.
The Museum of Extraordinary Things, by Alice Hoffman
Even if you’ve never been to New York, the city in summer might bring to mind a vision of Coney Island’s roller coasters and hot-dog stands—or, if you cast your mind back further, its seedy sideshow attractions. In early 19th-century New York, Coralie Sardie is both the daughter of a Coney Island impresario and his star attraction: a mermaid in the Museum of Extraordinary Things. Hoffman’s cocktail of romance, historical fiction, and thriller is better than a Sidecar to toast the imminent arrival of warm weather.