Each week as part of SunLit — The Sun’s literature section — we feature staff recommendations from book stores across Colorado. This week, the staff from The Bookies in Denver recommends two great beach reads and a novel paying homage to a former Colorado town.

Little Monsters

By Adrienne Brodeur
Avid Reader Press
June 2023


From the publisher: Ken and Abby Gardner lost their mother when they were small and they have been haunted by her absence ever since. Their father, Adam, a brilliant oceanographer, raised them mostly on his own in his remote home on Cape Cod, where the attachment between Ken and Abby deepened into something complicated—and as adults their relationship is strained. Now, years later, the siblings’ lives are still deeply entwined. Ken is a successful businessman with political ambitions and a picture-perfect family and Abby is a talented visual artist who depends on her brother’s goodwill, in part because he owns the studio where she lives and works.

As the novel opens, Adam is approaching his seventieth birthday, staring down his mortality and fading relevance. He has always managed his bipolar disorder with medication, but he’s determined to make one last scientific breakthrough and so he has secretly stopped taking his pills, which he knows will infuriate his children. Meanwhile, Abby and Ken are both harboring secrets of their own, and there is a new person on the periphery of the family—Steph, who doesn’t make her connection known. As Adam grows more attuned to the frequencies of the deep sea and less so to the people around him, Ken and Abby each plan the elaborate gifts they will present to their father on his birthday, jostling for primacy in this small family unit.

From Bess Maher, Event Liaison: Set on Cape Cod during the summer, “Little Monsters” is the ultimate beach read and then some! The novel explores the ways in which family traumas change us and each in unique ways. Loosely following the story of Cain and Abel and set just prior to the 2016 election,Little Monsters” also considers the power, and destructiveness, of patriarchal structures. 

The Five-Star Weekend

By Elin Hilderbrand
Little, Brown and Company
June 2023


From the publisher: Hollis Shaw’s life seems picture-perfect. She’s the creator of the popular food blog Hungry with Hollis and is married to Matthew, a dreamy heart surgeon. But after she and Matthew get into a heated argument one snowy morning, he leaves for the airport and is killed in a car accident. The cracks in Hollis’s perfect life—her strained marriage and her complicated relationship with her daughter, Caroline—grow deeper.

So when Hollis hears about something called a “Five-Star Weekend”—one woman organizes a trip for her best friend from each phase of her life: her teenage years, her twenties, her thirties, and midlife—she decides to host her own Five-Star Weekend on Nantucket. But the weekend doesn’t turn out to be a joyful Hallmark movie.

From Judy Carroll, Bookseller: Elin Hilderbrand does it again! Another great beach read set in Nantucket. Hollis Shaw invites her best friend from each period in her life–growing up, college, marriage and children, and her recent online “best” friend–to a fabulous weekend at her beautiful summer home. Through Hilderbrand’s engaging storytelling and character development, we gain insight into each woman’s current situation, and I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next!

Go As a River: A Novel

By Shelly Read
Spiegel & Grau
February 2023


From the publisher: Seventeen-year-old Victoria Nash runs the household on her family’s peach farm in the small ranch town of Iola, Colorado—the sole surviving female in a family of troubled men. Wilson Moon is a young drifter with a mysterious past, displaced from his tribal land and determined to live as he chooses. Victoria encounters Wil by chance on a street corner, a meeting that profoundly alters both of their young lives, unknowingly igniting as much passion as danger. When tragedy strikes, Victoria leaves the only life she has ever known. She flees into the surrounding mountains where she struggles to survive in the wilderness with no clear notion of what her future will bring. As the seasons change, she also charts the changes in herself, finding in the beautiful but harsh landscape the meaning and strength to move forward and rebuild all that she has lost, even as the Gunnison River threatens to submerge her homeland—its ranches, farms, and the beloved peach orchard that has been in her family for generations. 

Inspired by true events surrounding the destruction of the town of Iola in the 1960s, “Go as a River” is a story of deeply held love in the face of hardship and loss, but also of finding courage, resilience, friendship, and, finally, home—where least expected. This stunning debut explores what it means to lead your life as if it were a river—gathering and flowing, finding a way forward even when a river is dammed.

From Juli Guyer, Bookseller: Shelly Read’s debut novel is a sweet homage to the former Colorado town of Iola, which is now buried beneath Blue Mesa Reservoir in Gunnison, and the hardships and life of those who lived there. The story focuses on Victoria (Torie), a strong, resilient woman whose life is changed when she loses her mother and has a chance encounter with Wilson Moon, a drifter. From 1948, when Torie is 17 years old, until the early 1970s, we follow Torie through tragedy, love, loss, and most importantly hope.


The Bookies

4315 E Mississippi Ave, Denver

(303) 759-1117


As part of The Colorado Sun’s literature section — SunLit — we’re featuring staff picks from book stores across the state. Read more.

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