May 03, 15
Read from June 11 to 14, 2012
When I saw the cover of this book and read the title, I expected a great beach read--something light and hopeful. What I found in Summerland was really the opposite of that. Okay, so it does have some hope, I suppose, but readers have to really look for it.
The book focuses on a summer in the life of four Nantucket teens. The moment that brings them all together is a tragic car accident that kills one of the teens, Penny. The accident, along with Penny's death, throws the remaining three teens--as well as their parents--into turmoil. Penny's brother, a star athlete, is left with a broken body. Her boyfriend, Jake, is haunted by what he thinks may have led Penny to act rashly and crash the car. Their friend Demeter is left to blame herself for what she thinks she caused.
As if the drama of the teens themselves isn't enough, Summerland goes a step deeper and explores the complicated relationships of the parents of all four teens. While they're all friends on the surface, what lies beneath is perhaps even more complicated than the accident itself.
While I appreciated getting an early copy of this book as a Goodreads ARC, this wasn't what I expected. Hilderbrand seemed to want to write a book about the people of Nantucket--not the tourists--to show that they really do have lives beyond the sun and fun. In that, she succeeded. That said, this book could have been set just about anywhere, and it would have been the same. The characters spend the majority of the book wondering what made Penny do what she did, but when we find out, it felt like a let down--no surprise and certainly not something worth such extreme action. I found myself thinking, "That's it? I read all of this for just that?" This was a decent book, but I found myself searching for something more.