A quirky and charming coming-of-age romance in the vein of Harold & Maude, The Lake Effect by Erin McCahan is the perfect book to kick off your summer reading.
It’s the summer after his senior year, and driven, focused Briggs Henry is ready to leave behind his ex-girlfriend, his comically aggressive grandmother, and his parents’ money troubles for Lake Michigan and its miles of sandy beaches. He’s lined up a summer job working as a personal assistant and living in a gorgeous Victorian on the water—exactly the kind of house Briggs plans to buy his parents once he’s a multi-millionaire. But when he arrives, his boss, the eccentric Mrs. Bosic, tells him to get dressed for her funeral. Uh . . . It’s the first of many funerals they’ll attend this summer—to hilarious and eye-opening effect. Add to this a new set of friends-cum-enemies-cum-friends-again, and Abigail, the mysterious girl next door on whom Briggs’s charms repeatedly fail, and “the lake effect” is beginning to take on a whole new meaning.
There is so much to fall in love with in this book, and with it taking place over one tumultuous summer, it’s the perfect book to dive into this time of year. Here’s what I loved about The Lake Effect:
1. Perfect Summery Setting. The book takes place on the shores of Lake Michigan, and pits townies against tourists for a small part of the sub-plot. You’ve got sand and sun and the water; volleyball tournaments and boating. Bicycle rides and watching the sunset on the beach. There is no setting more perfect for a summer read.
2. The Characters. Okay, yes, Briggs is a compelling narrator – but the side characters really bring the story to life, starting with Mrs. B, the wild an outlandish woman for whom Briggs has gone to work. She is unlike any other person Briggs has ever met, and her eccentricities make her both endearing and unusually insightful. Her commentary on life — and death — give Briggs much to contemplate, and set him on a path of self-discovery. But his friends, both old and new, his parents, his grandmother, and the girl next door all help bring the story to life.
3. Witty Writing. McCahan has a knack for writing books that balance humor and seriousness, and she does so excellently within the pages of The Lake Effect – but with an easy, breeziness to her writing that makes it seem almost effortless. Her chapters are at once laugh-out-loud funny and deeply contemplative, and this juxtaposition gives her books a sense of realness and authenticity. (After all, isn’t life a balance of the light and dark? The funny and the serious?)
Overall, I just thoroughly enjoyed this book. It had everything I look for in a summer book. Filled with heart and humor, The Lake Effects comes out July 11th.