If you enjoy the occasional "light summer read" like I do, you are probably familiar with author Elin Hilderbrand. Her Summerland does not disappoint. Set on Nantucket Island, as most of her books are, this is a story of love and loss, grief and healing, and the complicated relationships between teens and their parents.
The story begins with graduation ceremonies at Nantucket High, followed by the traditional grad party afterwards, a bonfire on the beach. But the celebratory night ends in tragedy as four of Nantucket High's finest students are involved in a car crash which leaves the driver dead and her twin brother in a coma. The other two passengers are unhurt, but tormented by what has happened and why. Why did Penny, who had not been drinking, crash the car, and what happened in the dunes before she got behind the wheel?
Zoe, the twin's widowed mother, faces an unthinkable future without her daughter Penny who she has been so close to, and a long recovery period for her son who had been a star athlete with a promising future. Penny's boyfriend Jake cannot imagine his life now, with his girlfriend/soulmate dead and parents who are unhappy in their marriage. His mother Ava longs to return to her homeland of Australia while his father Jordan is dedicated to life on Nantucket where his family has run the newspaper for generations. It seems the accident has affected everyone and no one has answers...or is there one person who knows what happened just before the crash? What does Demeter Castle know? She was with Penny in the dunes just before the fateful drive....
Summerland is a compelling read, I found it hard to put down - the "chapters" are not too long so it's very easy to read "just one more" before turning out the light. Although it jumps around a bit from present to flashbacks, I did not find it hard to follow. The characters are so well developed, you feel you know them as well as your own long time neighbours, and the descriptions of the Nantucket landscape are vivid and real. Hilderbrand's writing style is easy to read. This book offers romance, drama, and relationships aplenty- teen relationships and all their secrets, adult relationships and their infidelities, and dysfunctional family relationships - lots of those! A great summer read: 5/5.
"I never understood people who don't have bookshelves." ~ George Plimpton