Posts Tagged ‘Leila Howland’

Nantucket Blue

Leila Howland

NantucketBlue-HighResFor 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

Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publication Date: May 2013
Format: ARC
Pages: 304
Genre: Coming of age, Contemporary romance
Age: YA
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: Debut Author
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Why I Chose to Set My Novel on Nantucket

We are delighted to host the latest stop on Leila Howland‘s blog tour for her debut novel, Nantucket Blue.

NantucketBlue-HighResFor 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.

As soon as I decided to set my Young Adult novel on Nantucket, I knew it was the perfect choice. Despite what it looks like on a map, Nantucket is actually the easternmost point of the United States (next stop: the Azores), and you can actually feel that you are on the edge of a vast expanse. You feel that you are away; the word Nantucket means “the far away island.” I wanted my protagonist Cricket to feel far away from all that was familiar to her. I wanted her to feel far away from her old self so that she could find a new self.

Nantucket is also an awesome place to be a teenager. Teenagers are free! They can walk into town and let the evening take them where it will, and adults, trusting this place, let them go (while they have their own fun). Even though there are plenty of vices on Nantucket, there’s also an abundance of simple pleasures. Just to sit on a bench by the harbor and watch the boats rock gently beneath the moon turns a Monday night into poetry. Now add a chocolate ice-cream cone and a cute boy and forget it. Heaven! And an evening dip in the Nantucket sound? Paradise! All you have to do to get there is walk a half a mile and descend a staircase to the sand. I wanted to give Cricket that Nantucket-in-the-summertime freedom as she falls in love for the first time and teeters on the cusp of adulthood.

Also, the past feels alive on Nantucket. The cobblestoned streets, the stately old whaling captain’s homes, and the lack of chain stores and traffic lights evoke another era so consistently that the past is a living breathing being. This made it the perfect place for Cricket to reconnect with her mother, who in the present is lost in sadness, but who in the past was a wild spirit with whom Cricket would have had so much fun. Though no actual ghosts appear, Cricket and a younger version of her mom meet in their own way and are able to be together for the first time in ages.

Nantucket is the perfect setting for the story I wanted to tell. Forty miles out to sea with pristine beaches, whispers of ghosts, and sunsets so alarming you can’t help but stare at the sky in a kind of blissful, wide-eyed stupor, it lit my imagination on fire. If you can’t get there this summer by ferry or plane, hopefully NANTUCKET BLUE will transport you.

Guest post by Leila Howland

Leila Howland author pictureLEILA HOWLAND loves to read, explore L.A., and engage in funny and meaningful conversations with her friends and family, especially her brother who calls from Washington D.C. whenever he’s waiting for the bus. A lot gets discussed in those phone calls, but they tend to end abruptly when the bus shows up. She can really cut the rug, but wishes she could sing without people covering their ears. A graduate of Georgetown University, Leila spent five years acting in New York where she was a company member of the award-winning Flea Theater in Tribeca. It was a lot of fun and she often talks about “getting back into it.” The closest she has come was a stint as an extra on The Young and the Restless in 2010. Leila now lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two dogs. She teaches high school English and blogs for HelloGiggles. NANTUCKET BLUE is her first novel.
To learn more about Leila and her work you can her on Tumblr(here) or converse with her on Twitter (here)
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Nantucket Blue was published on the 7th of May 2013 by Disney Hyperion and is available to buy in hardback from Amazon.com (here) and Amazon.co.uk (click here)

Those lovely people at Disney Hyperion are giving US readers a chance to win a finished copy of Nantucket Blue. Simply fill in the rafflecopter form below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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