Book Review: Nantucket Red
By: Leila Howland
Published By: Disney-Hyperion
Publication Date: May 13, 2014
Page Count: 288
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via NetGalley
Audience: Young Adult - Contemporary
I honestly thought Nantucket Blue was a standalone novel so I was surprised to see this one pop up on NetGalley. I enjoyed the first one so much I knew that I needed to continue with Cricket's story. Nantucket Red is a little odd because unlike the first novel, this one begins in Rhode Island and not at the beach. Cricket has just had one of the best summers of her life: she fell in love, worked for a talented writer, made new friends, and began to mend some old fences. As summer fades away and real life invades, Cricket realizes that sometimes perfect summers do not translate when the crisp fall air begins to blow. Everything seems to be changing and Cricket isn't sure she likes that, but the worst possible thing happens when Zack decides to go away to boarding school. Cricket can't stand the thought of not being with him, but she isn't sure a long distance relationship is a great idea. She convinces Zack that they need to take a "pause" in their relationship. She doesn't realize that might mean that the two of them will grow apart.
When I realized that Cricket and Zack wouldn't be a couple in this novel, my heart sank a little. I loved their relationship in the first novel and I didn't want to see that fall apart. Based on the Goodreads description, I knew this was going to happen and I was prepared to make Zack the villian, but I found that Cricket is just as much to blame for the crumbling relationship. In many ways, she is the one who pushes Zack away and into the arms of another girl. I did enjoy watching Cricket grow in this novel. She isn't the same girl I met in the first chapter of Nantucket Blue and she is in a state of constant evolution. By the end of this one, I was happy with the direction Cricket was headed. She seems to be more poised and mature; she has a plan. I was frustrated with some of Cricket's choices before this mature takes hold - the most notable example is her relationship with Ben.
In addition, I love the female friendships in this series. It was nice to see Cricket and Jules begin to repair their friendship. I certainly preferred the Jules in this edition to the one from the first novel. Liz is also back in this one and she becomes an even better friend to Cricket. I wish that I had someone like Liz in my corner.
Despite having some moments that made my heart ache and my stomach churn, I ended up enjoying this one. I was pleasantly surprised by the ending and I think a lot of fans from the first novel will end up appreciating the path that Howland carved for Cricket this time around. I will say this one read more like a New Adult in many parts. This is partially due to the fact that Cricket is older and she's focused on her post high school years. I certainly wouldn't be able to recommend this one to younger teens.
All in all, I feel like this series is a strong example of a summer romance. It has attractive people, swoon inducing moments, summer sun, ocean waves, and a strong sense of fun. I'm not sure if there will be more books, but if there are, sign me up. I'll be one of the first to head to Nantucket to find out what is next for Cricket. Yet again, I am craving a vacation.
One Last Gripe: The same raunchy humor that bugged me in the first novel makes several appearances in this one as well.
My Favorite Thing About This Book: I love the emphasis on change and growth.
First Sentence: I never liked the last few days of summer vacation.
Favorite Character: Cricket
Least Favorite Character: Ben - there was just something about him that irked me
Cricket Thompson's lifetime of overachieving has paid off: she's headed to Brown University in the fall, with a spot on the lacrosse team and a scholarship that covers almost everything. Who knew living in the dorm cost money? An Ivy League education seems to mean living at home for the next four years.
When Cricket is offered the chance to earn enough cash to afford a real college experience, she heads back to Nantucket for the summer. But the faraway island challenges Cricket in ways she hadn't anticipated. It's hard to focus on earning money for next year, when she finds her world opening up in entirely new ways-to art, to travel, and, most unexpectedly, to a future completely different from the one she has been working toward her whole life. A friendship blossoms with Ben, the gorgeous surfer and bartender who encourages Cricket to be free, even as she smarts at the pain of seeing Zack, her first love, falling for her worst enemy.
But one night, when Cricket finally lets herself break all her own rules, she realizes she may have ruined her carefully constructed future with one impulsive decision. Cricket must dig deep to fight for her future, discovering that success isn't just about reaching goals, but also about listening to what she's been trying to ignore-her own heart.