Beach Bums guide to good reads: June review roundup by Carol Memmott

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This month we’re recommending some reads that you won’t want to wait until vacation to savor. We have great authors who write books that pull us into their world. Candace Bushnell, S.J. Watson, Sarah Hall and Wednesday Martin take us on journeys both real and imagined in new books out this month.

Primates of Park Avenue: A Memoir by Wednesday Martin Ph.D. (Simon & Schuster, June 2)

Primates of Park Avenue

It really is a jungle out there, and in Primates of Park Avenue, the danger lies within the ranks of the aggressive Mean Girl Moms of the Upper East Side. In what could be one of the most talked about nonfiction titles of the summer, social researcher Wednesday Martin gets down and dirty with the upper crust as she learns the ins and outs of living with the ridiculously rich.

After Martin, her husband and son move into their new home on Park Avenue, Martin quickly learns how to fit in with the über-wealthy Manhattan mommies whose “chicly urban” babies are as important an accessory as the most expensive handbag.

Utilizing her skills as a cultural anthropologist who was always fascinated by the “grooming, friendship, and struggles for dominance among savannah baboons,” Martin soon discovers that the Upper East Side’s penthouse mommy culture isn’t much different from that of the tree-dwelling great apes. With humor and biting satire, Martin writes about the condo and co-op application process and its similarities to Greek life hazing rituals and the predator preschool moms who “don’t bother to stab you in the back, they just stab you in the front and step right over your body.” MartinWednesday_PhotoCreditElena Seibert

Martin goes native like an urban Jane Goodall, and the result is a fascinating look at the seamy side of playdate planning, the talismanic power of an Hermes Berkin bag and the migration patterns of the super rich as they jet from the Hamptons to Palm Beach to Aspen. By book’s end, Martin is transformed from participant/observer to participant, but it takes a heartbreaking event to reveal the kinder, gentler side of these privileged women. The lives of “the Haves and the Have Mores and Have Mosts” have never been more brilliantly dissected.

spent more than two decades as a reporter and editor for USA Today mostly covering popular culture, books and television. She has interviewed dozens of celebrities including J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, Queen Latifah, Matt Damon, Kevin Costner, Stephanie Meyer, John Grisham and E.L. James. Since leaving USA Today in 2013, Carol has taught a writing course at American University in Washington, D.C. and written for numerous media outlets including The Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune and People. She lives in Virginia with her husband, Mark, and Linus and Fenix, two incredibly handsome rescue dogs.

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