Emily Giffin's 2020 summer reads

Vannessa Cronin on June 15, 2020
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Emily Giffin's 2020 summer reads

Emily Giffin is the perfect author to discuss the perfect summer read because, ever since the June 2004 publication of her debut novel, Something Borrowed, she has written more than her fair share of summer page turners. Vanity Fair even dubbed her "a modern day Jane Austen." Her latest novel, The Lies That Bind, is another in a long line of books that pull you in with the opening paragraph and keep you engaged until the last.

It's the story of a romantic connection, made in an East Village dive bar in the in the wee hours of a Saturday night in the spring of 2001. That connection blooms into love, so aspiring reporter Cecily is devastated when Grant later disappears in the chaos of 9/11. But when she sees his face on a missing-person poster, and realizes she is not the only one looking for him, her investigative instincts take over and she tries to get the bottom of what happened to him, even as she begins to suspect that she really didn't know him.

Giffin's knack for creating flawed but lovable characters—and putting dialogue into their mouths so believable that it makes you think she's been secretly recording you and your friends—is on full display here, with the backdrop of 9/11 adding unbearable poignancy. We wondered what summer reads would make the cut for one of the reigning queens of the summer read. Here's Giffin's answer plus four books she recommends.

What makes a good summer read? Quite simply, I’d say it’s any book that captivates you completely. During a season typically filled with so many wonderful distractions and outdoor activities, it takes an enthralling read to keep our attention. (And this summer we need distractions more than ever). So whether serious or light, here are four books that will transport you—and keep you turning the pages. —Emily Giffin


Well-Behaved Indian Women by Saumya Dave

This is a beautiful, big-hearted tale of three Indian women—a daughter, her mother, and her grandmother—struggling to negotiate the generational and cultural tensions that define their fractured relationships with one another and the barriers that keep them from pursuing their true passions. I absolutely loved this story—and its fresh, authentic take on the modern American family. Saumya Dave is a fantastic new voice in fiction. Fun fact: I met Saumya at one of my own book signings back in 2009. She shared that she was writing a novel, and I told her I hoped she’d give me the honor of blurbing it . . . And here we are with my quote on her gorgeous cover!


Friends and Strangers by J. Courtney Sullivan

I love a good story about the complexities of female friendship, and this razor-sharp, ruefully funny examination of the bond between new mother, Elisabeth, and a young nanny, Sam, is a total knockout. Despite having almost nothing in common, the two women form an instant bond…until a shocking betrayal rocks their world and exposes the entire undercurrent of issues that divide them. This book explores class, privilege, and the tricky dynamic between motherhood and career, and is sure to be the big “mom book” of summer 2020.


The Big Finish by Brooke Fossey

This debut novel, written by a former aerospace engineer(!!!), is a story of Duffy, an 88-year-old man living in an assisted living facility, and his quest to help Josie, his roommate’s granddaughter, battle alcoholism and escape her abusive boyfriend. While this may sound like a depressing plot, The Big Finish is as delightfully quirky as they come, a hijinks-filled tale that will warm your heart.


The Book of Rosy by Rosayra Pablo Cruz and Julie Schwietert Collazo

We’ve all seen the horrifying images of migrants detained at the border and children separated from their parents. But this devastatingly powerful memoir about Rosy Pablo Cruz, a woman who flees the violence of her native Guatemala with two of her children—and the cruelty and horror they encounter once they finally arrive at the Arizona border—will force you to assess the immigrant experience with a deep sense of intimacy and renewed personal urgency. No matter your politics, you will be riveted by this haunting but hopeful account of one fierce mother and the family she would do anything to protect.


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