The theme of our Summer Reading Group 2011 was Adventure & Mystery and our summer readers loved it! They also picked up on two other unexpected themes running through the four novels, namely father-son relationships and deception.
“The Rest is Silence” by Carla Guelfenbein (Chile) was not only voted the Best Summer Read 2011, but was also chosen by Nicola as her Coup de Cœur Summer 2011. Readers loved what they described as a wonderful and powerful book. They liked the writing style which they felt was almost like poetry. They found all the characters flawed but with real depth to each of them, and they enjoyed the change in point of view as the story is told alternatively by three different protagonists. They all agreed that it was very well translated.
Readers also enjoyed “Secret Son” by Laila Lalami (Morocco), which they found nicely written. They were drawn into the story fast and warmed quickly to the eponymous protagonist. They liked the setting and the plot, and they found the author’s descriptions brought the different scenes vividly to life. They enjoyed the variety of characters who they felt were all well-drawn. At times, they found the story a bit predictable.
By coincidence, “The Prince of Mist” by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (Spain) was the first book that readers picked up and they all agreed that it was the perfect start to the summer. They found it had a good storyline and was a real page-turner. They liked the atmosphere created by the setting, both the time (1943) and the place (an old house by the sea). They felt the book to be perfectly suited to a young adult audience.
The biggest disappointment readers had this summer was with “Ilustrado” by Miguel Syjuco (Philippines). Although they were really looking forward to reading it (and they did find that some parts were well-written), overall they found it confusing and could not get into the story. A couple of readers didn’t even finish it! They felt that the pseudo-realistic, multi-layered narratives were pretentious, and they could not see the point of the book.
Nicola’s Summer Reading list 2011
“The Prince of Mist” by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (Spain)
“Secret Son” by Laila Lalami (Morocco)
“Ilustrado” by Miguel Syjuco (Philippines)
“The Rest is Silence” by Carla Guelfenbein (Chile)
* Best Summer Read
In italics, Nicola’s Coup de Cœur