Nantucket Blue is a solid choice for a relaxing summer read. There’s lots I liked about this book: Jules and Cricket’s friendship, the subtle romance, the way sex was handled in a realistic and positive way, the subplot involving Cricket’s mother. Though Nantucket Blue won’t be going down as a personal favourite, this is a good read and worth checking out.
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.
Nantucket Blue is about discovering yourself and who you want to be. Cricket, determined to be there for her best friend following the death of her mother, gets a job in Nantucket Blue, so she’ll be nearby if Jule’s needs her. But, as often happens in life, the death of someone who was a mother figure to both girls causes them to grow apart and Cricket has to figure out who she is without Jules. I thought the cracks in their relationship, the hurtful comments, the betrayal of confided secrets and little signs of how much they still cared was very well drawn. We’ve all experienced the sadness that comes from outgrowing a friendship and I thought Howland captured it realistically.
As well as the romance. I won’t spoil who Cricket ends up falling for, except to say it was sweet and built up gradually. Normally I would have preferred a little more on the romance front – Howland does a pretty good job recreating the giddiness and quick intensity of first love, but the reader is never shown too much insight the love interest’s character. However, in this instance it works. I never found myself wanting or needed to know ‘x’ better, as this was very much Cricket’s journey. I also liked seeing a YA novel that treated sex, in particular losing your virginity, in a way that will probably be relatable to a lot of readers.
It wasn’t what I thought it would be like at all. It wasn’t as easy as they make it look in the movies. It took kind of a while to get everything all lined up and protected and ready to go. The actual sex part was pretty short, and I was relieved it was short. I know I’m supposed to want it to last, but I didn’t. I’ve heard that’s kind of normal for a first time. I kept my eyes open when I always thought I’d be the type to keep them shut. Oh, and the kissing was still my favourite part, which isn’t what I thought, that the first thing you do with a boy would be the best… And my face was really hot and that made me feel pretty. I didn’t think I would feel pretty.
Best of all, the protagonist doesn’t feel regretful or ashamed about having sex, so Nantucket Blue gets major points for that.
As for Cricket, she isn’t the most memorable heroine, but she has everyday flaws and has a nice character arc in the book. One aspect I really liked was watching Cricket discover and come to better understand her mother through her old diaries.
Nantucket Blue could easily have been a depressing or ansty novel. Or it could have gone the other way and been too fluffy. Instead it strikes a nice balance as a gentle summer romance with a little of the sadness and bittersweetness of life thrown in. The one thing I would say is that the ending feels a little too rushed.