* * * 3/4
Cricket Thompson's lifetime of overachieving has paid off: she's headed to Brown University in the fall, with a spot on the lacrosse team and a scholarship that covers almost everything. Who knew living in the dorm cost money? An Ivy League education seems to mean living at home for the next four years.
When Cricket is offered the chance to earn enough cash to afford a real college experience, she heads back to Nantucket for the summer. But the faraway island challenges Cricket in ways she hadn't anticipated. It's hard to focus on earning money for next year, when she finds her world opening up in entirely new ways-to art, to travel, and, most unexpectedly, to a future completely different from the one she has been working toward her whole life. A friendship blossoms with Ben, the gorgeous surfer and bartender who encourages Cricket to be free, even as she smarts at the pain of seeing Zack, her first love, falling for her worst enemy.
But one night, when Cricket finally lets herself break all her own rules, she realizes she may have ruined her carefully constructed future with one impulsive decision. Cricket must dig deep to fight for her future, discovering that success isn't just about reaching goals, but also about listening to what she's been trying to ignore-her own heart.
I’ll just lay this out there – I simply adore Leila Howland’s Nantucket series. It’s cute, sweet and has enough of those awkward moments that anyone can relate to. It helps too that this is set on one of the most scenic spots around. Nantucket Red was like revisiting a favourite vacation spot.
At the end of Nantucket Blue, Cricket and Jake were just beginning to go public with their relationship while her friendship with Jules was still in tatters. Now she’s back at school trying to come to a truce with Jules so that they can lead their lacrosse team during their senior year. Jules is slowly coming around and while their friendship isn’t quite what it was, it’s better than how the summer went. In the meantime, Cricket and Jake have decided that rather than doing the long distance thing, they’ll go on a break instead. Hello? Have they not seen how that one Friends episode turned out? You can see where this is going right?
The book continues to give us quick glimpses of Cricket through the school year until graduation when an unexpected opportunity comes her way to be able to live out one of her dreams. This causes her to switch her summer plans to find a job on Nantucket. Jules is happy to have her there whereas things have become extremely uncomfortable with Jake. Add to that, Cricket’s growing attraction to the surfer/musician-by-day-bartender-by-night at her job only confuses her about what she really wants.
Before I go further, I’d like to clarify that Nantucket Red isn’t just about Cricket and Jake. It’s about Cricket and what she still needs to figure out about her future. When she discovers a wish list that Nina (Jules’ mother) had written ages ago, Cricket feels it’s divine intervention telling her that she should explore the world and break out from her strict timeline. Even though she’s on Nantucket, she finds a way to fulfill that wish list, giving it her own twist. It has given her inspiration to look at her once solid plans through new lenses and she even starts to deviate slightly from her path which causes a potentially disastrous consequence. But it does force her to ultimately decide what’s in her best interest and that of her future.
Cricket’s growing up and it was a pleasure to see how she came to her decisions and how she managed to pluck the courage to do so. Graduating from high school is exciting and scary. Overwhelming expectations, especially your own that come from dreams and ideas mapped out for years can be unsettling. Cricket is a genuine sweetheart and she finds her strength with some very supportive friends and family in her corner.
Nantucket Red is just the perfect read for you if you just want something that’s delightful and easygoing. Like I said earlier, it’s adorable and sometimes that’s just what you need.