Welcome to our first post for Sweet Summertime Reads, a feature we’re co-hosting with Tara at Fiction Folio and Ginger at GReads! Ginger kicked us off yesterday with a trip to the beach and a giveaway of Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen. (Go enter!) Today we’re taking you to two places we’ve both read about and are inspired to go visit now. What better time than summer, right?
I’m not going to lie. I wanted to pick up Sarah Strohmeyer’s How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True because it was set in a theme park. I know theme park vacations are not for everyone but for almost every summer since I turned 13 and until I was 21, my parents, sister, and I would spend about 10 glorious days in Walt Disney World. In August.
Yes, it was hot. Yes, it was sometimes crowded. But I kid you not: you can do a Walt Disney World vacation and still relax. These are most definitely my happiest summer memories.
I think this is why I related so much to Zoe (mostly). Like me, she’s a character who has such a strong pull to a place. When she was little her mom used to take her to Storytown all the time: an amusement park where fairy tales came true. And now many summers later, she was working at the neighboring theme park called Fairyland Kingdom as Storytown decays nearby.
History plays a huge part in my pull to WDW. I love that I can go there and relive favorite moments from my childhood, but also make some new memories as an adult (and with my husband alongside me!) For however amount of days, I can act like a kid, escape reality, and give into pure fantasy. (It might seem monotonous to go to the same place over and over, but I swear it feels like a new experience every time.)
While Strohmeyer’s book certainly poked fun at “the Mouse” and Fairyland Kingdom held many similarities to the real park’s processes, I totally smiled the whole time I read it — thinking of those lovely vacations from before and all the ones I’ll have in the future.
Recently, I finished reading When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney, and I LOVED IT. Not only is the story really gripping, but it was filled with new sites that left me aching to visit them. For reasons I won’t dive into here, Danny visits Tokyo after his mother passes away. It’s a place his family has visited time and time again. He’s searching for answers and a new friend, Kana, becomes his tour guide.
Tokyo might be an unconventional choice for a summertime destination because often beaches and sunshine come to mind when I think about my trips, but I was so inspired by the scenes Whitney described I wanted to fly there immediately.
They visit a very special tea house his mother frequented often because it was known for its healing tea. Danny finds some peace in knowing he was able to sit at the same table as his mother, swap stories with Kana as his mom did, and was happy to get to know the woman who served his mother tea. It was such a peaceful experience to read about; I’ve never been to a tea house before, but I certainly had a vivid picture of the darker environment and somber atmosphere and wished I were there to sip tea with a friend.
A little known fact about myself? — I don’t really like sushi. I’ve tried several times and I haven’t acquired a taste for it yet. However, that being said, I definitely wanted to try it again when Danny visited his favorite outdoor sushi hut where he and his mom were known by name. My stomach rumbled as the food was described. Yum, yum.
And lastly, but maybe most importantly, there were Kana’s outrageous outfits. She was always wearing something Danny took note of because it was wild and colorful. In fact, I began searching Japanese street fashion after reading When You Were Here because I was so intrigued by the outfits Whitney imagined for Kana. Maybe if I visited Tokyo, I could experiment and let go of my rather boring and conservative wardrobe.