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Star Island

by Carl Hiaasen |

REVIEWED BY JOSH EMMONS

NOVEL

You might be tempted to skip Hiaasen’s latest satirical trip through American culture, since he’s picked such an easy target: The book’s heroine, pop star Cherry Pye, is a three-car pileup of Lindsay, Paris and Britney. But reconsider, because Star Island is the funniest book to come out since Hiaasen’s Nature Girl (2006). After owning the charts as a teen, Pye (nee Cheryl Bunterman) has slipped into a fog of expensive drugs and cheap sex. Eager to reverse the trend, the agents, producers and family leeches who depend on her have planned a comeback tour for her new album “Skantily Klad.” Can Cherry marshal her slim talent to show the world there’s more to her than meets the eye? Or will a series of hilarious mishaps spin her career-and everyone attached to it-out of control? As always, a generous spirit animates Hiaasen’s motley cast of characters; even the most cartoonish emerge with their humanity intact. Read the book, laugh and understand our absurd, enchanting country a little better.

Super Sad True Love Story

by Gary Shteyngart |

REVIEWED BY KYLE SMITH

NOVEL

This funny sci-fi novel isn’t so ‘fi’: It’s set in a not-too-distant future in which Americans are obsessed with handheld digital gizmos. As Manhattan falls into chaos around him, a hapless nerd who works for a firm that promises the rich eternal life tries to romance a woman 15 years his junior with strict Korean-immigrant parents. With Shteyngart’s nutty knack for tangy language, it’s as if Vladimir Nabokov rewrote 1984.

The Stuff That Never Happened

by Maddie Dawson |

REVIEWED BY MEREDITH MARAN

NOVEL

If you’ve ever turned 50, or think you might, this deceptively bouncy, ultimately wrenching novel will grab you at page one. At a half-century, narrator Annabelle McKay revisits dashed dreams in a tale that jumps between 1977, when she and her husband fall in love, and 2005, when they fall out. While some plot turns, like a right-on-cue “chance” encounter, feel predictable, the phrase “summer read” seems invented for this debut.