Book Review: Nantucket Blue
By: Leila Howland
Published By: Disney Hyperion
Publication Date: May 7, 2013
Page Count: 304
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via NetGalley
Audience: Young Adult - Contemporary
My subconscious must really want summer to arrive because I keep reaching for summer novels. You can never be sure what to expect from a debut writer, but I figured even if this was a typical summer romance it would help me get in a more summery mindset. I love that feeling of freedom, warmth, and no responsibilities. I long for those summers of my youth when I truly didn't have to worry about anything except reading all those books I had put on hold due to school and tan lines. These sorts of books help rekindle those teenage moments even though I have long since stopped living those sorts of experiences myself.
I truly was expecting a typical, light cotton candy type of summer romance based on the cover and description of this one. That couldn't be further from the truth. Sure, there is a romance and it had all of those first love moments, but it was more complicated than I predicted. I won't go into details about the romance because it would spoil the book, but I enjoyed that aspect. The coupling was sweet, romantic, and fun. Be warned though - it is not without its fair share of drama.
Furthermore, this novel has some really serious issues running throughout the plot as well. It reminded me a little of Jenny Han's Summer Trilogy because of the grief issues, but other than that and sand, they don't really have a ton in common. Grief changes people and that fact is certainly apparent in this novel. The main character, Cricket, has to learn that the hard way when her best friend, Jules, practically becomes a stranger. Their relationship was complicated and filled me with sadness. I didn't enjoy watching them deteriorate and it was hard for me to understand Jules. I have never experienced the loss of a parent. I cannot begin to fathom how I would have handled that as a teen. I tried to be understanding, but there were moments when I just couldn't overlook her actions and words.
One of the main strengths of this novel is Cricket's narration. I found her to be instantly likable and entertaining. I didn't always agree with her choices, but I was always firmly on her side. Cricket is quirky, unsure of herself, and loves with her whole heart. She is exactly the sort of girl I wish I had been in high school. By the end of the novel, she starts to see herself in a much clearer light. I love novels that allow characters to grow from start to finish and learn more about their place in the world. Cricket was also the reason I couldn't put this book down. I needed to know how her story would end. It didn't matter that I had work the next day or that I was feeling under the weather. I just kept reading; it helps that this one is fast paced and not lengthy.
Another element I loved was the book of Emily Dickinson poems. I thought this was such a neat way for Cricket to learn more about her mother; she thinks she knows everything there is to know about her. I liked that Cricket was forced to see the woman her mother really was under all the sadness after her divorce. She also learns that the two of them are more alike than she could have ever possibly imagined.
My one complaint about the novel is the amount of raunchy humor. It seemed excessive and unnecessary in parts. This issue probably won't bother teens and I fully admit it could be because I am so far removed from that age group at this point in my life. However, I certainly couldn't recommend this book to younger teens because of that element.
If you're looking for a summer romance that has a little meat to it, then this is one you should certainly pick up when it hits the shelves in May. It will have you dreaming of sun kissed skin, sand on your toes, and a cool ocean breeze. I am longing for a trip to Nantucket.
One Last Gripe: I was annoyed at how Cricket and Jules judged Nora. Why are girls always given rude nicknames, like whore and slut, but guys who engage in the same behaviors are considered to be heroes? It's realistic behavior, but still irksome. Sadly, I know I engaged in the same behavior as a teenager. Where does this compulsion come from? Why is it a continuous cycle?
My Favorite Thing About This Book: I loved the underlying mystery contained in the book of poetry.
First Sentence: Even without Holly Howard and Dori Archer, who'd been suspended for drinking on campus, we were supposed to win that game.
Favorite Character: Cricket
Least Favorite Character: Parker
For Cricket Thompson, a summer like this one will change everything. A summer spent on Nantucket with her best friend, Jules Clayton, and the indomitable Clayton family. A summer when she’ll make the almost unattainable Jay Logan hers. A summer to surpass all dreams.
Some of this turns out to be true. Some of it doesn’t.
When Jules and her family suffer a devastating tragedy that forces the girls apart, Jules becomes a stranger whom Cricket wonders whether she ever really knew. And instead of lying on the beach working on her caramel-colored tan, Cricket is making beds and cleaning bathrooms to support herself in paradise for the summer.
But it’s the things Cricket hadn’t counted on--most of all, falling hard for someone who should be completely off-limits--that turn her dreams into an exhilarating, bittersweet reality.
A beautiful future is within her grasp, and Cricket must find the grace to embrace it. If she does, her life could be the perfect shade of Nantucket blue.