Review: Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland

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.

I only know vaguely where Nantucket is, but the cover of this makes me want to quit my job and move there, if only for the summer. I want to sunbathe, eat blueberry pie, run on the beach, and take a late-night swim in the water lit by phosphorescence.

And that’s exactly what Cricket does. After the tragedy in her best friend’s family, Jules uninvites her from their planned summer stay on Nantucket. Cricket, wanting to be a supportive best friend, convinces her mom to let her go anyway. (MY mom? No way.) She secures a job as a nanny but as soon as she arrives that falls through, and then Jules blows her off — leaving her with a job, friends, or a place to stay. Luckily, she lands a new job as a maid in an inn almost immediately. She also picks up an (unpaid) internship with a journalist writing a book.

No summer beach book is complete without a romance, and Cricket’s secret love comes from a surprising direction. I was initially wary because I had hoped she would be with Jay Logan, the boy from back home who she has had a crush on for years, but once I let go of that, I enjoyed the relationship she did have.

One of my favorite parts of the book involves the Emily Dickinson book that Cricket packs from home. It’s on her summer reading list, but what she doesn’t know when she grabs it off the shelf is that her mother had used the margins of the book as a journal in the summer of 1984, when she was seventeen and staying on Nantucket for the summer. Parents in YA books are often physically absent and/or emotionally unavailable, and Cricket’s mother, reeling from a divorce, fits the bill. Reading her mother’s journal gives Cricket a chance to know her mother better — in some ways she might not have wished.

This isn’t the book I wanted it to be, and that’s happened to me a few times lately. I need to start reading my book descriptions a little more closely so that I won’t be disappointed again. (What can I say? I knew as soon as I saw that cover that I would be reading this one.) Still, I can’t say that this book disappointed me. It just wasn’t what I thought I was getting. I do wish there was more focus on Cricket’s friendship with Jules. It’s there but because Jules isn’t speaking to Cricket, it’s not, if that makes sense. The only way THIS book worked the way it did is for Cricket and Jules to be apart.



Photo credit: Phil Hart

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  1. […] liked last year’s Nantucket Blue a lot, and I had no idea there was going to be a second book until I saw it pop up on NetGalley. […]