I hadn’t heard a thing about The Nakeds by Lisa Glatt when I saw it in the new fiction section of my library. The title made me smile and the collaged cover art drew me in closer. Then a quick skim of the book jacket picked up the words: 1970s… Southern California… painfully honest...nudist camp, and I was sold.
But while 1970s California nudist camp was enough to pique my interest, this book is so much more. When the story opens, 6-year-old Hannah Teller’s parents are busy with the argument that will culminate in the end of their marriage. Hannah steps out of her home, determined to walk to school on her own and is struck by a hopelessly drunk teenage driver named Martin Kettle. Sounds like a real downer right?
Bear with me. Yes, The Nakeds is a story of a broken girl, a broken marriage and a broken young addict but it’s funny- not quirky funny but unflinchingly honest and brave funny. Plus it’s a story filled with so much human beauty and compassion that you want to hang around: Even as Hannah gets fitted for yet another cast by another doctor who probably can’t fix her. Even as Hannah’s dad goes ahead and becomes a Jew for Jesus, marrying the blonde Christian surfer girl he started an affair with back when Hannah’s mom was pregnant. Even as (especially as) Hannah’s mom and her new stepdad expand their nudist camp weekends to include naked Fridays at home. And perhaps most difficult, as Martin Kettle stops and starts his life, paralyzed by denial and self loathing for what he did and failed to own up to.
So beat the crowds and spend a regret-free weekend with The Nakeds this summer. When you’re finished, check out this list for more intriguing new titles you may have missed.