14 July 2012

Summerland by Elin Hilderbrand, Book review

Publisher: Reagan Arthur Books
ISBN-13: 978-0316099837

A warm June evening, a local tradition: the students of Nantucket High have gathered for a bonfire on the beach. But what begins as a graduation night celebration ends in tragedy after a horrible car crash leaves the driver of the car, Penny Alistair, dead, and her twin brother in a coma. The other passengers, Penny's boyfriend Jake and her friend Demeter, are physically unhurt - but the emotional damage is overwhelming, and questions linger about what happened before Penny took the wheel.

As summer unfolds, startling truths are revealed about the survivors and their parents - secrets kept, promises broken, hearts betrayed. Elin Hilderbrand explores the power of community, family, and honesty, and proves that even from the ashes of sorrow, new love can still take flight. 

My thoughts:

'Summerland' was a surprise! Skillfully written with a solid knowledge of teenagers as well as the emotional baggage many parents carry in their ever quest for the perfect parenting! 

Elin Hilderbrand is well known as a 'Summer beach read' romance novelist with many titles to her credit but this was my first book by her. Her novels are usually set in or around Nantucket, an American landmark.

Nantucket's famous history is fascinating and the author's is obviously inspired by the locales.  I was impressed by the balance Elin Hilderbrand offers her readers betwixt the touristic Nantucket and the true Nantucket islanders who have lived on the island for generations.
It made for a solid background to her story which in itself seemed at first glance very innocuous.
But you soon feel drawn into it as events unravel as tragedy strikes, leaving one teenager dead and her twin in coma. Young or old, fresh or wearied, each character displays a wealth of feelings any of us could identify with in such circumstances.

In turn dramatic, mysterious, powerfully emotional and realistic, this story speaks of pernicious evil rarely acknowledged by loved ones. Which parent wants after all to believe the worst? Denial is often the easier way out!

Because it does include strong language occasionally and some adult thematic contents,  I would not term it as Christian material (albeit I doubt anyone will questioned God's presence in this novel!) . Rather I would describe this fiction as reflecting a wide emotional scope of human failings and even deeper emotions.

Summerland reminds people of those High school years, with little or no responsibilities, the whole world  ahead like an oyster! A stark reminder that we have little control over events, only our reactions, and that deeds must be eventually answered for. 

Dramatic as it might be at times, this is a beautiful story of hope and the courage a mother displays when faced with tragedy. The younger generation's emotions will captivate readers by their startling maturity in the face of adversity. A reflection on theirs elders perhaps?

I give it 4 stars!

About the Author:

A graduate of John Hopkins University and the University of Iowa writing workshop, Elin Hilderbrand has traveled extensively and is now settled with her family in Nantucket, a place of inspiration for her 5 previous novels as well.

I received this ARC free from HACHETTE as part of their blogger review program.
I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 255 'Guides concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising. I was not asked to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are entirely my own.

1 comment:

  1. I've seen this around on many blogs. Thank you for such a comprehensive review.


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