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.
When it comes to selecting my holiday reads I’m attracted to books that are uplifting, set in interesting and exotic locations with a strong romantic theme, and the guarantee that even if the sky remains overcast and grey during my “stay-cation” in Blighty, I will at least get to experience sun, sand and sea within the pages of a book.
The cover of Nantucket Blue alone ticked a lot of my essential summer boxes: blue sky? Check; golden sandy beach? Check; Romance? Check. Reading the synopsis, a girl taking her first steps towards independence and making her own way and the dangling carrot of “forbidden” love, cemented my desire to add Nantucket Blue to my summer reading list. Thanks to the lovely Shane at Itching For Books Blog Tours (visit here) I didn’t have to wait long to soak up some virtual vitamin D.
Cricket is beyond excited to be turning her back on her usual summer of dividing her time between her father’s new family,
her dowdy and depressed mother and the babysitting job from hell. Instead she intends to spend the summer with her best friend, Jules and vivacious second family, working a glamorous job by day and flirting with her long-term crush by night. However, all too quickly Crickets plans for an idyllic beach holiday with her best, dissolved like a sandcastle with the rising tide.
Devastated and bewildered by her first experience of bereavement, excluded from her second home and pushed out by her best friend, Cricket clings on to her summer plans and the overwhelming desire to be there for Jules. With a determined single-mindedness, which at times borders on thoughtlessness, Cricket takes matters in to her own hands and follows Jules out to Nantucket.
Within a few pages Leila Howland transported me effortlessly back to a carefree time of girlie plotting and planning, the end of school year excitement and the anticipation of weeks of hazy, care free summer days and fun filled summer nights. But then, like Cricket, my plans for a carefree summer (read) were turned on its head.
Where I was expecting a fluffy summer romance with an undercurrent of a young woman striking out on her own for the first time, what I discovered was a bitter sweet coming of age tale of a girl who learns that the true transition to adulthood isn’t just about physical distance and financial independence from your parents.
When we first meet Cricket she acts younger than her seventeen years, particularly in the way she approaches her relationships.
So much of her own identity is wrapped up with her friendship with Jules and the family she has adopted as her own, that she doesn’t know how to be without them.
She has a hopeful naivety, which is simultaneously cringe worthy and endearing. I winced as she put herself out there time and again, stumbling from one awkwardly ill thought-out situation to another, all the while knowing that the knocks she was receiving were important for her growth. I imagine I just experienced a glimpse ten year in to my future as a mother with teenagers.
While I quickly reconciled myself that Nantucket Blue wasn’t so much a summer romance, as a coming of age tale pivoted off of a young woman’s changing relationships, I loved the sweet romantic relationship which developed between Cricket and her “off limits” beau and I can’t help wish that we had spent more time getting to know them as a couple. However, of all of the changing relationships explored by Howland, my favorite was the new understanding which developed between Cricket and her mother, facilitated by her mother’s teenage diary of her own eventful summer in Nantucket.
Verdict: Blue skies, sandy beaches and bittersweet life lessons.
Reviewed by Caroline