|The Rainbow Parade at Nantucket Island on August 15, 2013 © sarahlaurence.com|
|Step Beach © sarahlaurence.com|
Howland has a good ear for teens and a fine eye for amusing details. Although it sounds like satire, many summer people actually dress like this:
"The parents were dressed in clothes as vivid as their children's. Grown men wore kelly-green pants stitched with yellow whales."
Unlike her best friend Jules, 17-year-old Cricket is not super rich. She had planned to stay at Jules's summerhouse, but when Jules's mom dies, the invitation is rescinded. Resourceful Cricket finds a chambermaid job with free housing (this is fiction!) so she can be there for her friend. Their unbalanced friendship was well rendered with clever foreshadowing:
"I liked the way I felt around Jules- like I was tipping backward in a chair, on the edge of falling."
When grieving Jules turns her back on her best friend, Cricket falls into a clandestine relationship with Jules's younger brother. Zack is a nice boy, but young is not the same as innocent. Sex is on the mind of all the characters, although the act is not described in print. The writing style was typical of the romance genre, but there were some nice additions like phosphorescence in the night sea. Having a younger boyfriend was a fresh tack too. The setting made Nantucket Blue an ideal beach book.
|Sunset at Brant Point, Nantucket Island © sarahlaurence.com|
It was a welcome surprise to find that Nantucket Blue was more than a summer romance. With an eye on college applications, Cricket takes a second job as an unpaid intern for an author writing a senator's biography. At this point, I'd hoped we'd get some meaningful reflection on politics, but the biographer's focus was on the senator's ruthless social climbing and scandalous secrets. This angle would certainly appeal to the young adult audience. Teens often view the world through the polarized lenses of popularity.
I'd recommend Nantucket Blue to teenaged girls and to Nantucket vacationers especially. The Beach House by Jane Green, also set on Nantucket Island, would be a better choice for adult readers.
Reviewer's Disclosure: I bought the ebook because the cover would have embarrassed my teenage kids if I were reading beside them on the beach. The hardcover book was prominently displayed at Nantucket Bookworks, where I bought The Age of Miracles in paperback and Beautiful Ruins on CD.