Friday, October 19, 2012

Summerland by Elin Hilderbrand

In Summerland, after the traditional graduation beach bonfire on the island of Nantucket, a tragic car accident leaves Penny, the driver of the car, dead and her twin brother, Hobby, in a coma. Two other passengers are physically unhurt, but are troubled by the memories of that night. The twins' mother, who raised the two alone, is devastated. How can she go on when her world has changed so drastically? As time goes by, secrets are revealed about all of the teens and those around them as they learn the truth about what happened that night on the beach and in the subsequent crash.

I loved this book. I've never been to Nantucket or the surrounding area, but I love reading about it. The book is so wonderfully written, I felt like I was transported to the east of the US. It's one of the first book I've read that featured so many teenagers, but wasn't filled with teenage angst or whining. Even though many of the main characters are teenagers, it's not a young adult book and doesn't read like one.

The story is told from many points of view. Rather than being a "he said, she said" thing, it was more like the characters took turns, one by one, in telling parts of the story. The reader got little bits and pieces of who they are and what happened before and after the accident. Even the island itself has a part, speaking for the collective of islanders. The story also jumps around a lot in time. From years before the accident to weeks after the accident and everything in between. With all of the characters and time jumping, it got a little disorienting at times. I found that I really had to pay attention to figure out what was going on. Had I not, I could have easily gotten lost. I could see how others might find this really confusing.

The story was suspenseful, but not terribly fast-paced. Now that I think about it, not much happened. Besides the accident, most of the story focused on what Penny found on out the beach that night and what pushed her to the point of no return. Nevertheless, the story was wonderfully entertaining, albeit a bit sad.

I found it interesting that the author didn't give Penny part of the narrative. Well, at least, I don't remember one. That would have truly cleared up any assumptions about her frame of mind and explain what happened that night. That's what would happen in real life, right? After an accident like this, the families are left with lots of questions and no clear, solid answers. Very clever on Hilderbrand's part.

New words:
quoins (page 182): outer corner of a wall
effete (page 183): weak
ameliorate (page 222): improve (I'm know I've seen this word before, but I keep forgetting what it means.)
perspicacious (page 268): insightful

I've read two other books by Elin, Castaways and more recently Silver Girl. I'd definitely recommend them both.

Highly recommended. I'm pretty sure I have one or two books from her backlist on the to be read shelf. I'm looking forward to reading these and others by this author. I'm happy to say that Hilderbrand is becoming one of my favourite authors.

For more information about this book or to browse inside, please visit Hachette's website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at Hachette Book Group for this review copy.

Summerland by Elin Hilderbrand, Little, Brown and Company (Hachette Book Group), ©2012. ISBN 9780316099837(Hardcover), 388p.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds interesting. I usually avoid books anout teens, but this sounds different. I've neber neen to Nantucket either, but love stories set there. Thamks for reviewing.


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