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Summerland: A Novel by Elin Hilderbrand (Reagan Arthur Books, $26.99, 400 pages)
Life can be traumatic and daunting even on Nantucket Island, the idyllic summer vacation destination for generations of families, including the wealthy and famous like Martha Stewart. These are the summer people who see the island as an escape from reality. Of course on Nantucket, like any resort, there must be the year-round residents who live their lives in full on the island 30 miles from the mainland.
Elin Hilderbrand knows of what she writes. As a resident, she knows the year-around version of island life. Summerland is the eleventh novel based in her neck of the woods. Two of her most recent past novels, Silver Girl and The Island have been reviewed on this site. Both of these reviews were based on the audio versions of the books. Each was superb; however, the magic of seeing the story in hard copy was most evident for this book.
The narrative is written from the perspective of each of the main characters, including Nantucket. There are two generations represented here, teenagers and their parents. This time around the human experiences up for exploration are death, loss, parenting and children. Both generations are subjected to the fallout effects when the golden girl of her class, Penny Alistair, dies in a horrific auto crash on high school graduation night. Her twin brother Hobby, short for Hobson, is mangled and left in a coma. Two other juniors, Jake and Demeter escape unscathed.
The story line is believable and somewhat predictable but it is the way the characters are developed that makes this a compelling read. Regardless of the reader’s age, adult or young adult, the very poignant lessons learned are delivered in a manner that’s achievable only by a master story teller.
A review copy was provided by the publisher.