An ideal summer read need not actually take place in the summer, but The Guest does it well.
The story of the rich fleeing New York City during the sweaty summer months is almost as old as the city itself. In Emma Cline’s latest novel, The Guest, the protagonist, Alex, leaves behind her shared city apartment for gaudy mansions tucked behind wooden gates, overly air-conditioned living rooms with sky-high ceilings, and long swimming pools with robotic cleaners buzzing through their waters. But Alex is not like everyone else participating in this time-honored tradition. Far from a Daisy Buchanan (excepting, perhaps, her beauty), Alex is a sex worker low on cash masking herself as an elite to avoid a predatory ex-boyfriend, roommates to whom she owes several months’ worth of rent, and a generally more miserable life. An ideal summer read need not actually take place in the summer, but The Guest does it well, offering transportation into a realm of exurban life that makes you think—but not too hard—about money, power, and class politics.