Thursday, July 11, 2013

Summerland (A Summer Series Review)

Thursday, July 11, 2013 10:02 AM with 12 comments
Summer Series
I love summer books. I love the romance of summer. I love books about different vacation spots. I love books about road trips. I love seeing the beach on the cover of a book. To celebrate this lovely season, every Thursday I'm going to post a book and review of a summer book I'd recommend reading by the pool, at the beach, while driving across America (or whatever country you call home), in a hammock, in a cabin, on a boat, or at home as you dream of vacation. Happy Summer, everyone! 
 
This week's summer book is: 
 
Summerland
Summerland

Author: Elin Hilderbrand
Publisher: Reagan Arthur Books
Release Date: June 26, 2012
Number of Pages: 416

Synopsis from Goodreads:

It's June 15th, the night of Nantucket High School graduation. Four juniors are driving home from a party when something goes horribly wrong and there is a crash. The driver of the car, Penny Alistair, is killed, and her twin brother, Hobby Alistair, is left in a coma. Penny's boyfriend, Jake Randolph, and Penny's friend Demeter Castle are unhurt--but suffer tremendous emotional damage. Jake and his family move to the other side of the globe--to the west coast of Australia--in order to escape the horrors of the accident. Demeter falls prey to alcohol abuse and other self-destructive behaviors that nearly lead to her destroying her own life.

SUMMERLAND delves into the circumstances surrounding this accident, the roots of which lie deep in the past, with the first interactions between these four friends and their parents. It's a novel about how tragedy affects individuals, families, and the island community as a whole, and how healing can happen, in even the most devastating circumstances.

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 MY THOUGHTS:

I couldn't help but find a review of this book amusing. The woman was pissed that she bought this seemingly perfect beach read for her vacation only to find out that it wasn't a fluffly book after all (who buys a $26 hardcover book without reading the synopsis? Rich people, I guess). She's right though, all of Elin Hilderbrand's covers depict idyllic beach scenes that belie the stories within. But that is the point. Her books are about how even though the characters live in the perfect beach getaway of Nantucket, where all her books are set, they are still human. Living in a perfect place doesn't make their lives are perfect. They still have heartache and tragedy like everybody else.

Summerland, especially, discusses this idea. The basis of the novel is life after a horrific car crash on the night of graduation, after a party, that kills one teenager and badly injures another. The book revolves around 3 families who have always been close. Penny, the girl who dies, and her twin brother, Hobby, who is in a coma after the accident, and their mother, Zoe. Penny was driving the car the night of the accident, upset about something that only one person knows. She was a beautiful girl with an amazing voice and her death has shaken the community. Hobby is an exceptional athlete who leads the football, basketball and baseball teams and the town is hanging on a thread to find out whether or not he will pull out of his coma. Zoe is inconsolable. She lost her husband when she was pregnant with the twins and has now lost her daughter.

Jake, is Penny's boyfriend. He was in the car, but unhurt. She was his true love and he is lost without her. His mother, Ava, had also lost a child years before to SIDS and has never recovered. She sits in the baby's nursery reading Moby Dick over and over. She is from Australia and feels trapped in Nantucket. She yearns to return home. Jordan is Jake's father. He runs the newspaper that has been in his family for generations. He and Zoe have been having an affair for years. After the accident Jordan decides it will best for the family if they move to Australia for Jake's senior year.

Finally, Demeter was the last person in the car, and was also unhurt. She is an overweight, lonely girl who has turned to alcohol as a way to cope with her life. Her parents, Al and Lynne, are clueless to her addiction and have always doted on her with a blind eye. She was with Penny in the dunes right before they all left the party. Did she say something to upset her so much that she decided to take her own life?

I enjoyed Summerland. It follows all of the characters closely and is well-written. But it's honestly not really about anything, there is very little plot, except for how life continues on after a tragedy. It is a slice-of-life book, which is fine, but I would have liked for there to have been more there. I read it in a couple of days, and at the end, I kind of felt like, what was the point? Even though it isn't fluff, people who tend toward chick-lit will probably enjoy it. 

12 comments:

  1. I have just started getting into Elin Hilderbrand's novels this year, which is shocking since I am such a beach-read lover. I have been so curious about Summerland, but I've been hesitant because of the dark parts of the story. I like that, like you said,it's a slice of life book. I think I would have to be in the mood for this one. Thanks for the great review!

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    1. I've actually only read a couple of her books, too, although I own most of them. This is a quick, easy read, but it does deal with grieving and other heavy issues so you do kind of have to be in that mind-set. Thanks for stopping by!

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  2. I've pretty much read almost all of Elin Hilderbrand's books and I've enjoyed them all (I would say like not love), although they are definitely not the light and fluffy beach reads--they all seem to deal with pretty serious issues. Great review!

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    1. Yeah, she's not my favorite, but I do always think about her when I think of summer books and I do like her writing. I do like that they depict Nantucket as a real place where people have the same issues as everyone else. Thanks for stopping by!

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  3. This is an adult story, right? Not YA, even though the characters are HS aged? I think I read one of this author's books once when we were renting a beach house -- it was one of those books that another renter had left behind. And all the covers do look pretty similar….
    Thanks so much for stopping by! Jen @ YA Romantics

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    1. Yes, this is adult fiction. Her covers all depict beach scenes of some sort.

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  4. Huh... It certainly does LOOK like a relaxing, happy beach book! I'm sad to hear it was meh for you, though. It is interesting that she sets all of her books in such an idyllic place just to tear all of that down; I bet it works really well.

    I LOVE the idea for your summer series! That is so cute. Beach reads are the best. :)

    Rachel @ Paper Cuts

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    1. Thanks, Rachel! I love summer books so much. All of her covers are so misleading, but again, I do think that is the point. I have enjoyed her books in the past and am excited for the one that is coming out soon (or just came out--I'm not sure what the release date is/was--I put it on order at the library a couple of months ago, but haven't gotten it yet). Thanks for stopping by!

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  5. I'm very interested to see how the characters in the novel cope with grief and loss. It sure doesn't sound like a light beach read but it sounds like something much more, something that would make me really think and enjoy the story. Great review, Natalie!

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    1. It's definitely more than your average beach read, but truly nothing really happens in the story. It really is just about people moving on with their lives. The writing is quickly paced, which is always a plus, and I cared about the characters, but it wasn't my favorite. I hope you enjoy it if you do pick it up. Thanks for stopping by!

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  6. I love Elin hilderbrand. Im currently reading her new book Beautiful Day.

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    1. I've only read one other from her, Castaway, but I seriously own, like, 4 others that I snagged at Goodwill and the used bookstore for a couple of bucks each that I haven't gotten around to reading yet. I do like her writing and plan on reading more. I have Beautiful Day on order at the library.

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Hello, there! Thanks for taking the time to comment. I read each and every one and will do my best to respond--usually on your blog instead of on mine. I will, however, always answer direct questions. Due to serious time restraints, this blog is now an award free zone, but I appreciate the thought!