Leila Howland was another author I had the pleasure of meeting at the Austin Teen Book Festival last year. She was absolutely adorable, and while I didn't end up buying her book at the festival, she left enough of an impression on me that I knew I needed to read her first novel ASAP.
Nantucket Blue tells the story of a girl named Cricket Thompson who is determined to have a perfect summer, complete with a Jay Logan summer romance. After her best friend, Jules Clayton, and her little brother, Zack Clayton, suffer a tragic loss, all Cricket wants to do is be there for her best friend in any way possible. When Cricket surprises Jules in Nantucket where her family vacations every summer, she's surprised to find that things aren't what they used to be with her best friend. In spite of their relationship being on the outs, Cricket is determined to make the most of her summer in Nantucket, and even she's surprised by the events and secrets that begin to unfold.
I read this book in two days if that's any indication of how much of a page-turner I thought it was. I had a love/hate relationship with Cricket because, while she has the best of intentions, most of her actions are actually quite selfish. Not to mention, she's also a bit clueless. That being said, she also has a huge heart, and she's willing to jump at any chance thrown at her, ignoring the obstacles in her way. I know that when I was her age, some of the situations she put herself in were far from things that I would have done, but I was more introverted back then.
My least favorite character was Jules for reasons that I can't express without spoilers. Just know that if you read this book, you may spend most of the book pretty miffed at her and her childishness. At the same time, her antics are what caused Cricket to break out of her shell and have the unexpected summer of a lifetime, so Jules...just do whatcha do.
The amount of character growth in Cricket is insurmountable. She starts the book as a girl who is comfortable in the shadow of her best friend, and she ends up finding love, making friends with unexpected people, and even working with someone who will be helpful professionally. I mean, who does that in high school? Not me.
The love story in this book was completely unexpected from what I initially thought it would be in the book. Maybe I'm just blind, but it caught me off-guard. When things started escalating, I was definitely cheering on Cricket to just go for it!
I give this book a 4 out of 5. There are so many other things I would like to talk about in this review, but it's impossible if I don't want to include spoilers. Just know that it's an adorable read with an awesome main character!
"Feelings find each other, I thought. Let one in and the others follow."
"Without a best friend to tell stories to, it almost didn't matter if they even happened."
For more on Leila Howland, visit her Tumblr or follow her on Twitter.