Summer reads from Martha’s Vineyard


A wealth of new books with Vineyard connections are on the shelves this summer. Here are some examples that make for interesting beach reads, cozy bedtime stories, and captivating escapes somewhere out of the sun.

“My Blue Butterfy/Mi Mariposa Azul” by Mercedes Rodman

“My Blue Butterfly/Mi Mariposa Azul” is a bilingual children’s novel that tells the story of two girls, one from Venezuela and the other from Boston, who meet over the Internet through an international music program, El Sistema. Though they come from different backgrounds, their shared love of music and culture leads to a friendship that helps them deal with bullying, music competitions, and growing up.

Mercedes Rodman was born in Venezuela and now lives with her family in Boston. “My Blue Butterfly” was published by Vineyard Stories, the local independent publisher. The book includes Spanish and English translations and a CD of music composed and performed by Ms. Rodman’s son for different sections of the stories

“Back in the Day: Volume 1 (A Twelve Year Memoir 1963-1975)” by Ralph F. Robinson Jr.

In “Back in the Day,” Ralph F. Robinson Jr. recounts his childhood memories from his early days in New Jersey to his enlistment in the United States Air Force in 1975. Mr. Robinson has strong ties to the Island: he graduated from the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School in 1971, his mother, Shirley Robinson, was longtime director of the M.V. Youth Center, and his uncle Robert Tankard was principal of the West Tisbury School. His book is available at Bunch of Grapes in Vineyard Haven, or may be ordered online at

“The Case Against Evangelical Christianity” by Dr. Rick Herrick

Dr. Herrick argues against Christian fundamentalism, specifically attacking the Evangelical claim that the Bible is the inerrant word of God. The back cover description says the book “explores new approaches to understanding revelation and redefines Christianity away from belief and toward a love that was central to the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.”

Dr. Herrick, a retired university professor and magazine editor, splits his time between Oak Bluffs and Leadville, Colo.

“Tigers in Red Weather” by Liza Klaussmann

Ms. Klaussmann, great-great-great granddaughter of Herman Melville and former New York Times journalist, has written a debut novel, “Tigers in Red Weather.” The novel tells a story of family intrigue in the 1960s. The plot centers around two young women who grew up spending glitzy summers on Martha’s Vineyard in a family estate called the Tiger House. However, the women’s glamorous lives begin to fall apart with the discovery of a hidden family secret.

“Chopin in the Attic” by Elisabeth Bell Carroll

Elisabeth Bell Carroll’s debut novel, “Chopin in the Attic,” chronicles the experiences of a 17-year-old girl named Belle from South Boston. While summering on the Vineyard, Bella details her visions of God. Her fragile state of mind and body become the obsession of a Harvard medical student, shifting the plot of the novel.

In an email to The Times, the author describes her book as “best aligned with classic erotic literature — the story nuanced in a surprisingly spiritual way.” The novel also highlights the possible advantages of temporal lobe epilepsy.

Ms. Carroll was for many years a resident of Aquinnah when it was named Gay Head and served on the town’s finance committee.

“Sucker’s Dance” by Bill Chipman

Ex-police officer Cole Pierce works for an insurance company investigating worker’s compensation fraud, but his life changes when he becomes the scapegoat for the actions of a dangerous gang. He finds himself on the run from the law he once worked for but is determined to prove his innocence.

Bill Chipman, who self-published “Sucker’s Dance,” was born and raised in Massachusetts and lives near Boston with his family where he is working on the second book in the Cole Pierce series.

Mr. Chipman’s second book in the series, “Last Seen in the Caribbean,” will be available in August.

“Summer is…” by M. Lesnikowski

Molly Lesnikowski defines the meaning of summer through painted pictures and rhyming phrases in her new children’s book, “Summer is…” “Summer is wet!” “Summer is wild!” “Summer is on the face of a child.” Dive into summer with images of Vineyard traditions, from driving off the ferry in Vineyard Haven to the August fireworks at Ocean Park.

Ms. Lesnikowski is an author and artist who was born and raised on the Vineyard and now returns with her family each summer.

“Star Child” by Kay Goldstein

“Star Child” is a fairytale for young and mature adults about two children who come to a futuristic earth (Chilmark, specifically) to learn about the joys and trials of being human. The book is set in the picturesque Chilmark meadows, forest trails, and creeks from which Ms. Goldstein found inspiration for the story.

The book was published by Vineyard Stories. Some proceeds from each sale will benefit the preservation of natural habitat on Martha’s Vineyard.

Ms. Goldstein is a seasonal resident of Chilmark.

“Our Final Salute” by Jay Schofield

Jay Schofield’s third book, “Our Final Salute,” captures the histories of his father, uncles, and aunt, especially their experiences during World War II. Mr. Schofield has transcribed letters written among his family during that trying time, highlighting the option that the brothers would return home safely.

In his introduction, Mr. Schofield writes, “This is the extension of good old fashion story telling, the adhesive tape of strong family bonds which builds upon the awareness of a family’s dynamics. We all must take the time to honor and learn from our elders.” Mr. Schofield is a well-regarded former Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School basketball coach and physical education teacher. He lives on Martha’s Vineyard.

“Presidents, Kings, and Ball Players: Fascinating People I Have Known” by Vernon R. Alden

“Presidents, Kings, Astronauts, and Ball Players” provides readers with quips and anecdotes about Vernon R. Alden’s interactions with prominent individuals of society, such as Lyndon Johnson, Neil Armstrong, and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Mr. Alden is a Chilmark summer resident.

“Jake Dellahunt, Vineyard Lawyer (with an office on the Cape)” by A.J. Cushner

“Jake Dellahunt, Vineyard Lawyer” is a law procedural that follows Jake Dellahunt as he defends clients and solves mysteries on Martha’s Vineyard. Mr. Cushner uses his experiences as a trial lawyer and longtime Vineyard resident to fill the book with a series of “reveal” scenes where Mr. Dellahunt’s local connections lead him to the true cause of a crime.

Mr. Cushner’s imagined Martha’s Vineyard is a fun reflection of the real thing, and the book centers around the leverage of local politics. At the end of the novel the sole remaining mystery is, “Why does Jake Dellahunt have an office on the Cape?”