The summer of “93 was a fine one for the arts indeed – even if it was a fairly dramatic one for the characters in Cruel Summer. But as this quarantine has taught us, art and entertainment truly do offer us solace in times of stress and difficulty. If done correctly they can appease our sense of loneliness and strengthen our feelings of empathy for our friends and for our family, even for strangers. Here are some of the top books and movies that came out during that first turbulent year of Cruel Summer.
The Magic Circle, by Donna Jo Napoli (June 1st)
Within the primarily fantasy-leaning YA book scene of the summer of ‘93, this reimagining of the Hansel and Gretel fairytale stands out as a unique, dark entry. Told from the point of view of the Witch, this is a sympathetic portrayal of a magical woman haunted by demons both personal and literal. Kate and Jeannette might be able to relate a little in feeling like the “Witch” of their own stories.
The Gathering, by Isobelle Carmody (June 1st)
Something of a YA classic in Australia and New Zealand, this archetypal novel of good vs. evil centers on a socially inept teenager struggling to uncover the dark secrets of his new high school. Just like Cruel Summer, a member of this school’s administration also happens to be totally evil.
A Wizard Abroad, by Diane Duade (July 22nd)
The fourth installment in the eleven-book Young Wizards series, A Wizard Abroad shakes things up by sending its protagonists Nita and Kit to Ireland, where a dark force known as the “Lone Power” attempts once again to destroy the universe. Typical dark lord behavior. Here good and bad are more clearly defined than what we find in Cruel Summer.
Jurassic Park (June 9th)
An undisputable behemoth of the summer blockbuster, this classic dino-disaster is simply one of the most exciting movies ever made. Twenty-eight years later and the kitchen raptor scene still fills me with equal parts joy and trepidation – a pairing of emotions often experienced while watching Cruel Summer, albeit less viscerally.
Hocus Pocus (July 16th)
While not exactly a hit with critics, this charming, silly-spooky gem is still considered one of the best Halloween movies ever. With a sequel on the horizon currently being filmed this cult smash still has definite lasting power. I have a feeling Jeanette would have been a fan.
Free Willy (July 16th)
Now who doesn’t love whales? We certainly all did in the ‘90s after Free Willy. Based off a true story of marine captivity (and starring the real Willy whale named Keiko) this wholesome drama about a lonely orphan connecting with an even lonelier whale was undoubtedly one of the first big Hollywood movies to bring awareness to animal rights. In relating it to Cruel Summer, I’m sure most if not all main characters could relate in some way with feeling constricted by their circumstances in one way or another, either physically or emotionally.