Wednesday, June 05, 2013


BY: Leila Howland

PUBLISHED: May 7, 2013 by Disney Hyperion

YA • Contemporary Romance • Summer at the Beach • Tragedy & Death • Life Issues

SOURCE: Bought at Barnes & Noble

 Technically 3.7 rounded to 4

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.

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It had me at the cover. I was struck by the beauty and the intensity of the design and impulse bought a copy. My whole life I have been a complete sucker for anything beach related and there was no exception here. I was gobsmacked by the contrast between the cover and the actual story. Peaceful, serene and joyful verses agitated, hostile and distressing.

The whole story I sat reading in a disconcerted, disturbed and unsettled state. Sometimes my agitation was caused by Cricket's self-absorbed antics. Other times by the mean, cruel words said by so-called friends. Most of the time, I was affected by the overall lack of grace, mercy, common decency and distorted views of on friendship. I have been overwhelmed by society lately and this book brought home some of those issues. How friends are only friends if you coddle them and do as they wish. If you step over some kind of imaginary, invisible boundary you are suddenly cast aside. No discussion, no clarification, no graceful forgiveness. They're done with you. What saddens me is that is how our society is now functioning. It left me fidgety and distressed the whole book through.

The setting was immaculate. I wanted to squeeze myself into the pages of this book just to experience the soft beaches, lush skies and tranquil breezes. 

Cricket was an enigma to me. I was rooting for her one minute, disgusted with her the next, sympathized for her then annoyed at her. Howland did an incredible job of writing genuine characters. She was incredibly loyal throughout the book and I found that heartwarming and encouraging. What disappointed me was her short sightedness and lack of thought. Cricket didn't think of the consequences, she selfishly plunged ahead... always to disastrous results. A few scenes left me completely baffled. How could she have done that if she was so in love with that person? This was a story about an imperfect girl and her journey to maturity through the land of personal pain, bad decisions and public scorn. 

Jules had me wanting to rip my hair out. She was so hurtful and distorted I could barely stand to read her lines. Yes, she was going through a devastating life crisis and many people have been known to lash out at those closest to them. But this just drove home my point about relationships being so disconnected anymore. The minute something negative happens, people can't communicate. They can't talk about it, can't even argue about it. She does the stereotypical drop kick and bows out, ignoring the other person.

Cricket was dealing with loss but it didn't feel as organic as it could have been. She was so enamoured with Jay and then this other guy (that shall go unnamed) that it overshadowed her other issues. I felt her relationship with her dad was the weakest link, except the whole birthday gift concept. Her interactions with her father felt the most nonviable, unnatural and unrealistic scenes in the whole book. His behavior at the end made me want to give him the riot act.

What really boiled my gut was that as troubled as Cricket was, everyone else was ten times worse... but they expected her to apologize and did not think they had to reciprocate. Again, it felt so lifelike. Everyone seems to think they have no need for accountability or to make amends. (Getting off my soap box now.)

The romance was not so unexpected, but it was enjoyable. Except for his typical horny "all-I-want-to-do-is-hide-and-make-out-you" behavior. ANNOYING. I would have shoved him out the door real fast telling him to go get a blow up doll if that's all he wants. Do people think that a real relationship and not just hormonally driven antics based on an available make out partner?  I felt the few other scenes between them where much more genuine. But again, something happens and does he (either one the boys) talk to her? Do they forgive her? Do they try to understand? NOPE. My aggravation level was in orbit around the moon by this point. My eye lid was twitching SO BADLY.

There were a great many issues that Cricket was dealing with and I felt that Howland should have edited down. There just wasn't time to explore and fully address them as they deserved. I would have planned a series and gave each issue a main focus per book.

My support was mostly behind Cricket and I felt her pain acutely. It really resonated with me and that was a big reason why I enjoyed the book so much. (Yes, I am a masochist.)

This is a great summer read and I think it is a great discussion starter on how society and relationships have become less about grace, forgiveness, communication and support and more about self gratification with brittle ties.