Beach Reads



It’s time for those summer beach reads and for fantasizing that you are living the life of the glamorous creatures on the covers. You know the ones – the small group of women on the sand who wear or carry a sun hat. They are draped in flowing garments blowing in the summer breeze coming off the beach.

If you believe these blockbusters, summer is all about running away to the beach, or being summoned there by a wise/crotchety elder so that you can find your destiny. Or true love. Or yourself.

Most of those facing their summer reckoning are sisters, and it’s usually three of them. There are usually three of them because of the rule of three, which states…well, I can’t remember what it states, but it’s something like two is never enough.

I can never live inside a summer novel for three reasons.

First, I’m an only child, so I have no sibling estrangement to reconcile. I had no one to resent for always getting the best of Mom and Dad because I was the one who always had their undivided attention.

Second, I’ve already found my true love, so that rules out breathtaking will-he-or-won’t-he plot lines because yes, he has and he will.

And, finally, I can’t meet my destiny over the next dune as they do in these page-turners. I hate the beach. The sweat, the sand, the biting bugs…I hate it all. If you ever meet me in real life, you probably will have to don sunglasses because of the reflection coming off my paler-than-white skin and you will think, “Here is skin that has never broiled under seashore sun.”

Don’t believe me?

One morning when my husband, daughter and I headed out to play tourist in my hometown of New Orleans, we almost bumped into a ruffian heading back in, surely on his way home from a night of debauchery. As we walked past, he slid his sunglasses down his nose and then quickly back up as though the sight of us hurt his bloodshot eyes. Shaking his head, he said, “Damn. You people need to get some sun.”

True story.

But here’s where the miracle of summer novels comes alive.

Because, even as a pale, already-married only child, I am going to get my summer blockbuster plot after all.

During these next hot months, I am going to get to see my sisters.

They aren’t the sisters I was born with, but they have stepped up to fill the plot holes in my life.

There is the one with the big laugh who knows me better than anyone and who calls me on my shit every time I try to spin some excuse.

There is the one who was the prettiest of us all, but whose bright, shiny life has cracks and rifts big enough to swallow her some day.

There is the one whose sweet demeanor and soft voice belie a wicked sense of humor.

Each of them will interweave her story with mine and make my own plot that much richer. And, like the best beach read, I can’t wait for the next chapter.

Helen Mitternight is a former AP reporter and current freelancer living in downtown Charleston. She headed up public relations for the Humane Society of the...

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