Nantucket Red by Leila Howland
Series: Nantucket #2
Publication Date: May 13, 2014
Source/Format: BEA 2014 (YA Party) || ARC
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. (from Goodreads)
Nantucket Red is an incredibly awesome follow-up to last year's Nantucket Blue, and I dare to say that I enjoyed this even more than the latter. Howland perfectly captures during the summer after high school graduation and before college orientation, complete with all the good and bad feelings and surprising situations. Grounded in the familiar faces that pop up, it was a pleasant surprise to read Nantucket Red.
It was such a pleasure to revisit Nantucket, and post-novel, I want to go and visit in person one day. The setting is perfect for a book set in summer, and I felt like I had been transported with all the details Howland included. It was also great to see so many familiar faces in this novel, including Cricket herself, and I found myself pleased with how well-developed everyone was. It was a great reunion all around, and I happily immersed myself in this story without a backward glance!
Cricket is the central character, but she's facing different circumstances this summer. I loved that many things - friendship, romance, summer, college - were on her mind as she spends another summer in Nantucket, and Howland does an excellent job juggling them all. Contending with everything that's going on in her mind is no easy feat, particular considering all the emotions (good and bad) she feels. In spite of her doubts and her fears, Cricket finds her way, and that is the main reason I cried reading Nantucket Red.
Everything about Nantucket Red works - the characters, the setting, the story. It flows so easily and organically that it's almost as if Howland is just recounting the story of someone she actually knows in real life. Even though it's no longer summer, I'd still say that Nantucket Red (and Nantucket Blue) are totally worth the read!