SUNNY SIDE UP Wherever she goes, Sunny Hostin leaves stacks of books in her wake. In a phone interview, the co-host of “The View” described her voracious approach: “I read a couple chapters and then I pick up another book and I put that one down. I know I drive my husband a little bit crazy because wherever I’m perched, there are about five books on side tables.”
When it came to escapist reading, Hostin noticed a dearth of books centered on women of color. “I don’t get it, if I’m being honest. Is it the trope that Black women aren’t going to pick up these books? Of course we do read, and of course we do read for fun,” Hostin said. “I think part of it is, some of the issues Black women face are pretty dark. There are a lot of books that reflect that experience, but we also want to read books of Black joy and love, sexy books with lust and secrets. We want that too.”
So Hostin wrote the book she wanted to read — and she has two more in the works. Her debut novel, “Summer on the Bluffs,” which recently touched down at No. 11 on the hardcover fiction list, is the first in a trilogy of books set in historically Black beach communities. This first installment takes place in Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard; the next two will venture to Long Island’s Sag Harbor and Highland Beach in Maryland.
Hostin said, “When I started writing, I knew that I didn’t want the book to be too light because that is not the experience of a woman of color in this country. But that doesn’t mean the context can’t be beautiful Oak Bluffs. It can be grounded in beauty and fun and elegance.”
The New York City native recalled her inaugural visit to Martha’s Vineyard, where she now rents a house every summer and hopes to buy her own place someday. When she first arrived at the ferry terminal in Woods Hole, she was a teenager en route to Oak Bluffs to spend Fourth of July weekend with a friend. “I couldn’t imagine getting on a ferry in a car even though I had been on the Staten Island Ferry,” Hostin said. “We got out of the car and walked on the top deck and then we see this island approaching, but what was remarkable to me was, there were so many Black people on this boat. When we got off in Oak Bluffs, I said, ‘Do all these people live here?’ It was sort of the first time in my life that I didn’t feel other; I was in the majority there. That’s a very empowering experience for a kid, especially for a Black one.”