Summer Sundays: Beach Reads #2 - Some Assembly Required, by Lynn Kiele Bonasia

Now this is a beach read. There's some tasteful boot-knocking, a beach, a somewhat less obvious mystery than that last one, and some highly sympathetic characters. There's no question that you should read this while sea-side. I mean c'mon, there are flip flops on the cover.

Published in July of 2008, it's the story of a heart-broken 39-year-old Rose Nowak who moves from Boston to Cape Cod to escape her cheating ex, her job as a manual-writer, and all the noise of the city. She rents a cottage from a less than perfectly sane local who, along with her neighbor, takes care of an autistic boy named Noel whose mother died when he was young, and whose uncle abandoned him for the inside of a bottle.

At one point in the book, in a hallucinatory state, a drunken God tells Noel's uncle that the gift he gave Noel was not his art (he's an austic savant, a painting genius), but his ability to bring people together. That's what the book is really about - Rose is just the facilitator. She writes the article about Noel that gets his uncle to come back. But it's Noel's painting that helps solve Nauset's biggest mystery and tears down emotional walls. Unlike Kelman's book, there's no overworking here. The juxtaposition of manual instructions with Noel's outbursts of "lasts" is both poignant and endearing, and Noel's perspicacity is very real - certainly the best rendering of autism I've seen in fiction.

This was Bonasia's first novel - she published another beachy Cape Cod novel last year, titled Summer Shift, and she has another novel coming out this week called Countess Nobody which seems like it would be less beachy, but entertaining.


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