Cricket Thompson is inseparable from her best friend Jules Clayton, so much so that she’s practically a member of the Clayton family. When Jules’s mother, Nina, dies unexpectedly, everything changes, including the friends’ plans to spend the summer in Nantucket—it’s “family only” now. Disappointed, 17-year-old Cricket heads to Nantucket anyway, becoming a chambermaid at a popular inn (“Would I be churning butter, cleaning chimneys, beating rugs with a broom? Who cared?”). As she tries to handle Nina’s death and rejection by Jules, unexpected love awaits. Debut author Howland’s descriptions for everything from a summer storm (“The grass in the back yard was rain-drunk”) to the stirrings of first love (“There was this lightness that occasionally took me over, making me feel like I was made of balloons”) are lush and moving. Readers should feel empowered by Cricket’s efforts to grow up into a strong, honest, and emotionally intelligent young woman, even as they are enchanted by the romantic and exclusive island setting. This is a natural beach read, but will easily win Howland year-round fans, too. Ages 14–up. Agent: Sara Crowe, Harvey Klinger. (May)
Children's Literature - Judy Crowder
For Cricket Thompson, almost eighteen, life looks pretty good. As the book opens, she has just scored her third lacrosse goal, helping her team from Rosewood School for Girls win the state championship, despite a nasty collision with mean girl Nora Malloy from the opposing team. Hottie Jay Logan is watching from the sidelinesa potential boyfriend? Thankfully, Jules, her BFF, is on the team and the two can talk about it at Jules' house. Cricket spends a lot of time at Jules' house, and is practically part of the family, consisting of Jules' dad, her way-cool mom, Nina, and her funny, cooler-by-the-minute, younger brother, Zack. When Nina invites Cricket to come along for their summer in Nantucket, Cricket can't believe her luck. Jules' family is almost perfect, and Cricket finds little joy at home. Her parents are divorced; her dad is already remarried with an adopted, very needy son. So all there is a Cricket's house is her mom who is still grieving the break-up. Rosy summer plans come crashing down when Jules' mom dies suddenly. Cricket must stay home and she dreads a summer of babysitting while her wealthier friends all take off for the magical Nantucket. She persuades her mom to allow her to look for work in Nantucket. and ends up working as a maid for the Cranberry Inn. Plenty of time to "be there" for Jules, plus evenings free to join in the night life with the beautiful young people, right? Wrong. Working and vacationing are different things and Cricket has to find a new path.. The book's cover features a young couple on the beach, clothed but embracing with one on top of the other. While many young adult readers may find this a compelling summer read, I would hope that they are older young adults. Reviewer: Judy Crowder
VOYA - Marla K. Unruh
Cricket Thompson is nearing high school graduation. She has had her eye on Jay for a long time, and just when it looks as though he is noticing her, a girl on an opposing lacrosse team "accidentally" lands a blow across Cricket's face during a game and hisses at her to leave him alone. Cricket hopes to see him during the summer, however, as her best friend, Jules, has invited her to the family's summer home in Nantucket. But then, just as the school year is ending, Jules's mother suddenly dies, and the ground shifts under both girls. Jules tells Cricket that she cannot be the family guest after all. Cricket believes that Jules needs her and manages to get a job at a Nantucket inn, only to find that Jules and her summer friends snub her. Jules's younger brother, however, likes Cricket a lot. Several elements in this novel make it a little more than just another summer romance. Cricket's struggle to define herself apart from Jules, her decision to follow her heart, and her realization that she can rise above her parents' divorce make this a story that many teems will find absorbing. The first-person narrative reveals Cricket to be an observant person, providing detailed imagery as part of the story's flow. Pacing is just right, and the conclusion is satisfying. References to losing one's virginity may be a reason to recommend the novel to older teens. Reviewer: Marla K. Unruh
VOYA - Amber Brown
Nantucket Blue is an extremely well-written book. The book gives readers sports, friendship, loss, and romance; this story could not be better written. It is definitely a book worth reading multiple times. Reviewer: Amber Brown, Teen Reviewer
To my mind, the perfect novel for spring break is the one that makes you eager for the summer, as this one does. Cricket has been offered a perfect summer in Nantucket, with the family of her best friend, Jules. When a family tragedy puts a halt to their plans, Cricket decides to go it alone, taking a job as a chambermaid in a quaint Nantucket bed-and-breakfast. There she makes friends with her fellow staff, begins an impromptu internship with a journalist/biographer, and fall into a romantic relationship with Jules’s younger brother, Zack, knowing that Jules will never forgive her if they are discovered. Fans of Sarah Dessen will find much to like here, as the charm of this summery yarn lies in Cricket’s open appeal. Readers will root for her as she falls down, takes her lumps, and moves forward to her final year in high school, always remembering what she learned under the Nantucket sun.
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School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Cricket Thompson, 17, is elated to be invited to her friend Jules's home on Nantucket for the summer. She adores Jules's family, who have been a sanctuary for her since her parents' divorce. The cherry on top is that Cricket's crush, Jay, will also be on the island. An unexpected tragedy, however, brings Cricket's idyllic plans to an abrupt end. Determined to be available for Jules in the aftermath of her mother's death, Cricket finds a job on Nantucket as a chambermaid at an inn. Jules, however, is aloof and unresponsive; Cricket is left to fend for herself. The teen's summer of independence leads her to an internship with a journalist, a friendship with a feisty Irish fellow-chambermaid, revelations about her mother, and an unexpected romance. Howland captures the delicious summery flavor of Nantucket beautifully. Readers with an aversion to an overly sweet romantic story will find themselves pleasantly surprised with "real" language, humorous quirks in characters, and some interesting perspectives and angles. The story is paced well: slow enough to savor, yet not so tedious as to become monotonous. Minor characters appear, add a bit of color, and then vanish appropriately-quite reflective of real life as it unfolds. Cricket's experiences give her a route to a new sense of confidence, and her story is told in a way that is both engaging and alluring. Definitely a standout novel in its genre.—Corrina Austin, Locke's Public School, St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada
A summer-at-the-beach story takes readers to Nantucket. When 17-year-old Cricket is promised the chance to spend her summer on Nantucket at her best friend Jules Clayton's vacation home, she's psyched. In addition to lazy days at the beach, summer on Nantucket means the opportunity to connect with her longtime crush, Jay Logan. But when tragedy strikes the Clayton family, Cricket's summer invite is rescinded. Undeterred, Cricket hatches her own secret plans to stay on the island to support Jules, but upon arrival, her plans fall through, leaving her without a place to stay, no summer job and on the outs with Jules. In a stroke of good luck, Cricket lands on her feet, finding a less-than-glamorous job at an inn that serves as her base for a summer of unexpected adventures and new friendships. Though the book has an overall lighthearted summer vibe, Cricket's bumpy relationship with her divorced parents, especially her mother, and her fractured friendship with Jules ground the text, providing a welcome sense of reality in a tony island paradise. Cricket's narration vacillates between hyperbole and thoughtful introspection, making the text feel uneven in places; this reflects Cricket's development, as the narration matures along with Cricket. A solid beach read. (Fiction. 15-18)
From the Publisher
"Sand, secrets, Nantucket Reds, and romance. A fresh, feel-good debut."Boston Globe"
Fans of Sarah Dessen will find much to like here, as the charm of this summery yarn lies in Cricket's open appeal. Readers will root for her as she falls down, takes her lumps, and moves forward to her final year in high school, always remembering what she learned under the Nantucket sun."Library Journal"
Several elements in this novel make it a little more than just another summer romance. Cricket's struggle to define herself apart from Jules, her decision to follow her heart, and her realization that she can rise above her parents' divorce make this a story that many teens will find absorbing."VOYA"
A rich, satisfying novel."Providence Journal"
Utterly romantic and fun. I didn't want Nantucket Blue to end."New York Times best-selling author Jenny Han"
Just like the moonlit shores of the island where it is set, Nantucket Blue casts a spell that will make you hope the summer never ends."Elin Hilderbrand, author of Beautiful Day"
[Howland] evokes the Nantucket setting vividly . . . when it comes to indulgent beach reading, sometimes it's more fun to get pushed over by a wave than to stay safely on your towel."The New York Times
*"Readers should feel empowered by Cricket's efforts to grow up into a strong, honest, and emotionally intelligent young woman, even as they are enchanted by the romantic and exclusive island setting. This is a natural beach read, but will easily win Howland year-round fans, too."Publishers Weekly, starred review