by Leila Howland
To be published by Disney-Hyperion
on May 7, 2013
Source: e-ARC from the publisher via NetGalley. Please see my full FTC disclosure on right sidebar.
Connect with the author: Twitter : Tumblr.
Summary (adapted from Goodreads:) 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. 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.
My take: I don't know what the weather is like where you live, but around here, spring is in bloom and summer is lurking around the corner. Which makes me long for some lazy days reading in the sun. Reading Nantucket Blue was almost as good as a day at the beach. The book does a great job of capturing the feel of teenage summers -- the sense of possibility, the promise of romance, all wrapped up with in scent of sunscreen and the sound of Top 40 hits on the radio.
After a tragedy in her best friend's family ruins Cricket's plans of summering with them in Nantucket, Cricket decides she'll make the summer happen on her own. Cricket was a character I didn't love at first, but she slowly grew on me. Her relationship with her best friend Jules was an unequal one, with Jules holding all the power and Cricket always feeling uncertain. And I while I felt Cricket's despair at losing her best friend, I never understood what Cricket saw in Jules. Still, I can fully accept that for a teenage girl, losing a best friend can be even more devastating than a romantic breakup, and I thought this aspect of the story was movingly portrayed.
I'm fairly familiar with Nantucket and, while I thought some of the scenes felt a bit predictable -- stuff like crusty Nantucketers in faded Murray's Toggery pants snubbing the washashores with their ACK bumper stickers -- the book does do a good job of depicting the uneasy relationship between the locals who live on Nantucket year round, the people who vacation there, and the army of seasonal workers who make hotel beds and sling fried clams when the island's population increases five-fold in the summer months. The scenes of Cricket working at the inn were my favorite -- Cricket's blunt, funny co-worker Liz was a standout and their exchanges about cleaning other people's toilets were priceless. Liz was a far better friend to Cricket than Jules ever seemed to be.
Nantucket Blue had an abundance of plot lines. There was the Clayton family tragedy, the breach in Jules' and Cricket's friendship, the death of a local politician, Cricket's discovery of her mother's journal, Cricket's relationship with a writer staying at the inn, and Cricket's forbidden summer romance. While many of these did converge toward the end, I did wonder if the story might have been stronger if it had been streamlined a bit. While I enjoyed Cricket's secret romance, I also felt that in some ways Cricket treated him like Jules treated her. This worried me, as he was so emotionally fragile.
This book reminded me of the Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han. Both books feature a family tragedy, a secret romance, a vivid summer setting and a girl who is trying to navigate the minefields of teen friendship and love.
Tell me in comments: what's your favorite summer-themed book?