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Salena Zito column: Embrace the escapism of a good summer read
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Rite of Passage

Salena Zito column: Embrace the escapism of a good summer read

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Summer Read

In May 2020, a woman read a book while lying in the grass at Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York.

Whether your vacation is in your backyard, on a sandy beach or camping in a majestic national park, the summer read is as essential a part of your getaway as your sunscreen, fishing rod or road atlas.

Americans crave tales of adventure, mystery, love and tragedy as a summer rite of passage. The more noble prefer to dive into highbrow literature, but many are looking for that page-turner escapist novel that twists the emotions but ultimately lands the reader safely with an ending that delivers redemption.

This is one of the few touchstones left in our culture in which you still can find elites, the middle class and the working class all indulging at the same time, oftentimes reading the same book.

It also is one of the few things in our culture that owes its success to word-of-mouth.

First-time novelist Virginia Hume’s “Haven Point” has all of the proper ingredients for anyone looking for a great summer read. The characters are realistic and potent, and she brings them to life in a very rich setting with compelling dialogue, intertwining romance, mystery and history into the story of several generations of American women.

Hume said her inspiration in writing the book came from her ever-so-slight preoccupation with observing the American tradition of returning to the same spot for family vacation every year. “I had both a fascination and envy growing up of going to these different places and learning that people came back to the same place every year,” she said.

Hume said that, as a family, they didn’t go to any particular summer place. “We rented various houses on the Delaware shore,” she said.

It was when she was about 9 or 10 that they started taking shorter vacations at the same resort. “I remember after a couple of years, I was always looking around the dining room to see if there were any people we recognized from years before.”

She said she mentally was trying to turn it into summer community, “Because I thought that would be so great.”

That fascination shines through the book, as the importance of place and roots became an integral part of the storytelling.

“I remember envying the people whose families went back to the same place year after year. It seemed so romantic to me, but I also thought it was the ultimate belonging,” Hume explained. “When you’re thrown together summer after summer, every aspect of humanity is going to play out.”

What makes Hume’s novel captivating is her ability to draw out that connectivity to place and make it as much a character as the three generations of Demarest women at the center of “Haven Point.”

No matter how you spend your downtime this summer, treat yourself to a little escapism; a good page-turner like “Haven Point” is on par with all of the other familiarities we associate with the longer days and nights of June through August, like apple pie, hot dogs on the grill and carrying on the tradition of the family vacation.

Salena Zito is a national political reporter and columnist for the Washington Examiner as well as a weekly columnist for the New York Post. Follow her on Instagram: @SalenaZito

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