A&E Summer Picks

Whether you’re lounging in the sun or sweating it on the subway these selections are sure to keep you cool

Cracked Up To Be By Courtney Summers
Cracked Up To Be By Courtney Summers
Bob Dylan Together Through Life Columbia
Bob Dylan Together Through Life Columbia

Cracked Up To Be
By Courtney Summers

Remember high school? Or have we already (thankfully) put all those fun memories out of our heads? Reading a book about the high school experience may not be your first choice of summer literature, but after reading a few sentences of Courtney Summer’s new young adult novel Cracked Up To Be, you’ll be happy you picked it up. Summer’s debut novel definitely isn’t the July Bloom style of YA fiction many teens and pre-teens grew up with.

Complete with drugs, parties and sex, this one is hard to put down. The narrative follows Parker Fadley, a senior at Anywhere High, who has recently fallen from grace. Parker once dated the hottest, most popular boy in school, was captain of the cheerleading squad and well, you can fill in the rest. A couple of months later though, Parker now comes to class hung-over and would rather watch the cheerleaders from a far, the lonely gym bleachers to be exact. Summer’s debut novel works on many levels. The writing is compelling in creating the angst-filled and sarcastic inner monologue of Parker. Parker is loveable and annoying, much like J.D. Salinger’s infamous teen hero Holden Caulfield, which makes her an interesting character to follow. She has the depth and intelligence that teen culture often works to suppress—a point illustrated beautifully throughout the novel. Her ability to understand completely her authority figures—namely the weaknesses of her parents and her school counselor are darkly funny and telling. And what of Parker’s abrupt transformation from Prom Queen to a girl who’s on suicide watch? Slowly we find out just what happened to Parker and why she is no longer what many would consider perfect. Her mystery is slowly revealed through Parker’s inescapable flashbacks and with the help of a persistent, but concerned new boy at school and his animal counterpart—a new puppy.

—Emily Whalen

Bob Dylan
Together Through Life

Bob Dylan has released his 33rd album Together Through Life, which seems hasty for a man who released the critically-acclaimed Modern Times in 2006, who has toured continually since 1988 and who is frankly getting old.

But then again, it’s Bob Dylan. If he can’t release over thirty albums in his lifetime, who can? The tracks on Together Through Life, primarily co-written with Robert Hunter of the Grateful Dead, continue to show Dylan as one of the most talented writers and blues lyricists living today. He writes about himself and his country and stays relevant even though you may not be able to understand everything he’s saying. The “Dylan Croak” may test the patience of the most devoted fan, but consulting the liner notes is a practice too rarely used.

It’s hard to tell whether Dylan’s accepted the world for the way it is or still has a youthful will for change and capacity for hope that so many people clung to at the beginning of his career. In “It’s All Good”, Dylan’s distaste for the world is evident. “Big politicians telling lies/ restaurant kitchen all full of flies/don’t make a bit of difference/ don’t see why it should ... it’s all good.” His brooding sensibilities are heard loud and clear, but he doesn’t sound like every other nostalgic sixty-something-year-old.

There is something more ambiguous about his words, much like the artist himself. Together Through Life may not be Blond on Blond, but time will only tell if this record is merely a minor addition to the Dylan cannon. This much is true; when Dylan sings “Some people tell me/I’ve got the blood of the land in my voice,” it’s hard to deny Dylan’s own insecurities about his fame, which is compelling in itself

—Emily Whalen

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