Nantucket Red (Nantucket, #2) by Leila Howland
Published: May 13, 2014 by Disney Hyperion
Source: Netgalley via publisher - thank you!
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. [goodreads]
Before Cricket returns to Nantucket for another summer on the island, we follow her through her senior year of high school. It's a quick start to the book, only touching on key moments between her and Zack, her potential academic future at Brown University, and the reunion with her best friend Jules. I liked that it gave a refresher on how things ended in the previous novel, Nantucket Blue, but it also set the scene for what was to come during another summer on Nantucket Island.
First and foremost, the element that drew me in to the fist book, and was such a delightful welcome to the second, is the setting. I'm a girl who has a fondness for contemporary novels set at the beach. Make that beach in New England and I am sold. Coming back to Nantucket was like revisiting my favorite beach side resort. Just like Cricket, I was anxious to see what the summer held and all the possibilities that could occur on this breathtakingly beautiful island.
For me, there is a stark contrast between this novel and its predecessor. Though I enjoyed Nantucket Blue, I wasn't sucked into that story as I was with this one. It's as if I needed Cricket to grow up a bit before I could fully connect with her. She's a much different girl in this novel; more seasoned, more vibrant, and definitely more engaging. The depth of this novel formed a solid attraction for me as well. I tend to gravitate towards stories that dig deeper than just a summer romance. Cricket really came into her self in this novel, and for that, I found it to be a well rounded contemporary.
The cast of characters highlighted this story on many occasions throughout. I was happy to be witness to the friendship between Cricket and Jules, and how even though they went through a very rough patch the year before, they were able to grow and learn from it. Then there's the boy, or should I say boys. It's not exactly a love triangle, but the relationships Cricket has with both Zack and Ben, kept the story interesting. I came to understand the purpose for each character in Cricket's life, and the meaning behind their relationships.
If you read Nantucket Blue, but wasn't totally captivated by it like me, I really recommend revisiting this story with Howland's follow up, Nantucket Red. Regardless if you're new or familiar with the story, this is a series that I will gladly add to my favorites of summertime reads, and that is reason enough to add it to your beach bag this summer!