Pub 5-2013, Hyperion
“Chick-lit” describes a light, fun novel whose sole purpose is to be a fluffy source of entertainment for an hour or two. That’s not a bad thing, but a novel that combines a sense of fun with deeper themes is much more likely to leave an impression on its reader. Such is the case with Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland. It has more depth than many chick-lit novels. That said, it isn’t entirely lovable.
Nantucket Blue tells the story of seventeen-year-old Cricket, who is expecting to spend her summer vacation on Nantucket Island with her best friend, Jules. Before they can set off, Jules’s mother dies, forcing them to change their plans. Cricket gets a job as a maid at the Cranberry Inn, realizing this is the only way she can stay on Nantucket. She hopes to be there for Jules during her time of grief, but her friend quickly transforms into a person Cricket doesn’t recognize. And, complicating things further, Cricket also falls in love with the last person she expected: Jules’s younger brother.
Beneath the typical themes of love and summer, Nantucket Blue takes a painful look at what happens when friends drift apart. Considering how close Cricket and Jules had been, it hurts to see them lose touch, especially for readers who have experienced something similar. We also get to watch Cricket becoming closer with her somewhat estranged mother. Cricket grows quite a bit as a person, and while not all of her decisions could be called wise, she has matured considerably by the end of the novel.
Of course, one of the ways Cricket “matures” may cause some readers to feel as though they’ve been made the butt of a joke. A recurring theme in the novel is whether Cricket will lose her virginity or not. That, by itself, isn’t the problem; it’s a perfectly natural theme in young adult literature, and “chick-lit” especially. However, one of her coworkers, Liz, repeatedly mocks her for being a virgin, reiterating that she won’t be a “real woman” until she loses it. Slowly, Cricket starts to think the same way. It wouldn’t have been such a big deal if it had been only one character’s view on things, but the idea that you must lose your virginity to be mature was almost propagated. (That notion, of course, is completely false.)
Overall, though, Nantucket Blue is a fun read. Many of the struggles in the novel are relatable, and though the ending is slightly bittersweet, there’s still resolution. Leila Howland definitely has a future as a young adult writer.
- Rachel P., 17