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.
LEILA 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.
Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I have been sitting on Nantucket Blue for what seems like ages. I knew I was going to read it, it was just a matter of when. What better time than in the middle of the Polar Vortex we’re having!
If you’re looking to get away from the cold and snow for a couple hours and it only costs you the price of the book, I couldn’t recommend a better read.
Cricket Thompson is offered the opportunity to spend the summer with her best friend, Jules, at their place in Nantucket and she jumps at the opportunity, but tragedy strikes Jules’ family and the invitation is revoked. Cricket is understanding but as a best friend she feels like Jules needs her now more than ever and she doesn’t want to get stuck at home babysitting for the summer. So she makes her way to the island, gets herself a job and shows up on Jules doorstep to let her know that she’s there for her whenever she needs anything.
Only, Cricket is blindsided by a different Jules in Nantucket. Suddenly she’s alone on an island where she doesn’t really know anyone, and so she has to make a decision to stick out the summer or quit and head home.
Let me just get this out of the way so that I can focus on other things…
I hated Jules. With the passion of a fiery sun I hated her. I don’t think that her behavior can be explained away by the tragedy that befalls her early on, and it didn’t make sense to me one bit. I felt like it was such a complete deviation from who they were when together when they weren’t on the island that it was almost unbelievable to me. Jules was mean and cruel and it was completely uncalled for. I get that she was hurting and didn’t know how to handle it, but maybe it’s because I’ve never had a friend turn on me so completely that way that it doesn’t make sense to me. Yes, people grow apart and move in different circles, but the thing that Jules says is the reason, to me, didn’t justify what she does to Cricket. +
Which brings me to Cricket. I adored her. I loved that she didn’t just give up on Jules, she was determined to be there for her when she worked out whatever was causing the issues between them. BUT … I wanted her to have more of a backbone about it. Nina wasn’t her mother or her ‘real’ family, but she was basically taken in by this woman when her own family wasn’t there to support her emotionally. So while she wasn’t her mother biologically, she was a huge part of her life and someone she depended on. And she lost her too. So yes, I wanted her to never let Jules in close again, and every time she hoped her phone ringing was Jules or a text was from Jules I wanted to shake her and say WHY… this girl was horrible to you and look what she’s saying about you and doing to you. Obviously I’m not a forgiving person. LOL
Okay… glad I got that out of the way.
There is quite a bit going on in the lovely Nantucket when Cricket arrives… the job she thought she had is no longer. The boy she thought she was going to get is no longer. The friend she thought she’d have is no longer. You get my drift right? So she has to quickly figure things out. Thank god for the Cranberry Inn where Liz and Gavin welcome her with open arms. With the job situation taken care of and a budding friendship with the quite funny and friendly Liz she’s on her way to enjoying her summer. The death of a local politician, finding her mother’s journal from the summer she spent on the island and family issues all combined with a summer romance make this a quick moving story.
And you can’t have a summer romance without a guy. Only the guy she ends up romancing isn’t someone anyone could have predicted. Zach is practically off-limits, or he should be, because he’s Jules’ younger brother. I loved them together… I always love romances that stem from friendship, because that’s what they are first and foremost. But of course secret romances can’t always remain a secret and this unleashes more drama between Jules and Cricket and ultimately between Cricket and Zach.
Howland did an amazing job of transporting me from my couch wrapped in blankets to the sunny beaches of Nantucket and as a setting I thought it was incredibly unique. I loved getting to know the area it was such a fun way to get immersed in the story… Nantucket felt like another character in the story.
If you’re looking for a quick read that focuses on friendships and relationships of all kinds, love and loss and finding oneself, a story that features characters you will love and hate this is definitely the book for you. There is a little ambiguity at the end about a couple of the big relationships here, BUT there is a second book, Nantucket Red, releasing soon so you’ll hopefully have all your answers there.
Fans of Sarah Dessen will definitely enjoy this!
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.
Nantucket Red by Leila Howland
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Leila Howland you heart breaker you…. With one half of a sentence in the summary of this book you had my heart split in two.
…even as she smarts at the pain of seeing Zack, her first love, falling for her worst enemy.
I mean… what am I supposed to do with that?
I was so excited when I finished Nantucket Blue and had this one all loaded on my kindle app ready to go ready to see how Zack and Cricket make their relationship work and and and then it didn’t start the way I wanted it to. I have only myself to blame, but admittedly it hurt.
I’ll be honest though, I didn’t really think their ‘let’s not be involved during the school year’ pact was going to work anyway. I mean… it just opens the door to this type of thing. The thing that I hated most though, was that Zack never told her.
I know… I’m going on and on about Zack and Cricket but I’m not even lying when I say it hurt.
Okay… SO let’s talk about the book – Nantucket Red starts at the beginning of Crickets senior year, but quickly skims over the actual year. We do find out that she gets accepted to Brown, Nina’s alma mater, but because the expenses are so high she’s going to live at home … which isn’t ideal, but she’ll make it work.
Until she’s given the opportunity to live on campus, the catch is that she has to earn $8,000 to make it happen and there’s only one way that will happen. So she’s off to Nantucket for the summer. Excited to see the friends she made last year and hopefully find a job. But things of course aren’t the same… Liz is running the inn these days and she ends up finding a job waitressing, where she’s gained the attention of Ben, the bartender who is off limits. Maybe.
I will say that I struggled with the Zack thing in this book. It didn’t make sense to me mostly because of things in Nantucket Blue… eventually, Howland gives you the dirt, but I still don’t know that it worked for me. It seemed to drag out forever and while I enjoyed Cricket getting to know about herself and attempt to figure out what she wanted to do with her life and her future, my mind kept drifting to wondering what the hell was going on.
Friendships are a big part of this story and we get to see Cricket and Liz together again. I think I said it before, but Liz, in my opinion was a better friend to Cricket in one summer than Jules was the entire time it seemed. And so it was nice to see Cricket be there for her when things don’t go exactly as planned for her. BUT we also get some Jules and Cricket time. I still don’t know how she ever forgave her,(because I hold serious grudges especially after what went down) but they seem to have worked out their differences and are what I would call sort-of friends.
If you’re looking for a sweet coming of age, coming into your own series (that I think is now complete) definitely check out this one. The setting is lovely and Howland takes you to Nantucket and immerses you in the town, making you care about these characters more than you probably should *cough* Zack *cough*, and I was absolutely pleased with the pacing of the story and the way Howland weaves all the different parts of the story together.
Thank you to Disney-Hyperion and Netgalley for an advanced copy in exchange for my thoughts.