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.)
Father of the Rain

Father of the Rain

384 pages; Atlantic
Early in Father of the Rain, 11-year-old Daley experiences a moment she'll treasure for decades: "My father grinning his biggest grin and looking at me like he loves me, truly loves me...." Never mind that he's high on martinis and the thrill of pulling a stunt that humiliates his wife and insults her dinner guests. Lily King's luminous novel centers on a child's blinding hunger for a parent's affection. King makes this well-worn theme seem fresh with her vividly drawn characters—especially Daley's father, Gardiner, a narcissistic alcoholic with an ugly temper and a magnetic charm—and a clear eye for the details of their singularly messed-up relationships. Set in the affluent East Coast seaside town where Gardiner was raised, in a world of Wasp privilege he takes for granted, the novel covers three decades starting in the mid-'70s. Daley's mother leaves Gardiner, but Daley can't give up hoping he'll change. "You want the daddy you never got," her boyfriend says. Obvious? Maybe to us. The uplifting ending comes as Daley finally sees for herself what's been clear all along.
— Karen Holt