O's 2010 Summer Reading List

Lush historical novels, wise contemporary tales, thrillers that will scare the dickens out of you. (And speaking of Dickens, we've got him, too.)
American Music

American Music

256 pages; Knopf
If the artist Edward Hopper had been a writer, he might have dreamed up something like the New York–y 1930s sections of Jane Mendelsohn's American Music, a beautiful, bittersweet novel by the author of I Was Amelia Earhart. In 2005 we meet Honor, a young rehabilitation therapist, and Milo, a 24-year-old war veteran who's paralyzed physically and emotionally. When Honor massages Milo, they both inexplicably begin seeing flashes of imaginary people and events: "The first time it had happened she was touching his ankle when there arose in her mind the image of a woman standing underwater in a shaft of light, her dark hair wafting weightlessly like ink." More characters mysteriously emerge: a jazz lover choosing between two women; a sultan's concubine falling for her guard. Honor's touch, meant to heal Milo, frees the stories locked within him. As the two try to understand these images, they discover that what we keep inside has the power to break us—but also to break us open.
— Carolyn Wilsey