Book Buddies is a discussion-style review that takes place with one of my two buddies. (Learn more and see past reviews here) We both read the book and then have a private discussion about it. We post our discussion as a review on the last Wednesday of each month. You’ll be able to see our similar/different opinions on the overall book, characters, writing style, etc. – just like a regular review. The first half our discussion will take place right here, and the second half will be on Cristina’s blog! (Link at the bottom)
For Cricket Thompson, a summer like this one will change everything. A summer spent on Nantucket with her best friend, Jules Clayton, and the indomitable Clayton family. A summer when she’ll make the almost unattainable Jay Logan hers. A summer to surpass all dreams.
Some of this turns out to be true. Some of it doesn’t.
When Jules and her family suffer a devastating tragedy that forces the girls apart, Jules becomes a stranger whom Cricket wonders whether she ever really knew. And instead of lying on the beach working on her caramel-colored tan, Cricket is making beds and cleaning bathrooms to support herself in paradise for the summer.
But it’s the things Cricket hadn’t counted on--most of all, falling hard for someone who should be completely off-limits--that turn her dreams into an exhilarating, bittersweet reality.
A beautiful future is within her grasp, and Cricket must find the grace to embrace it. If she does, her life could be the perfect shade of Nantucket blue.
View Cristina’s part of the discussion here.
Some spoilers ahead, so proceed with caution.
How did you feel about Cricket as a main character?
Lauren: I had weird feelings about her at first, to be honest! She started out being very critical about the girls she knew, and there were some major hints of slut-shaming. I was hoping that wouldn’t continue! I also thought it was a bit odd how quickly she decided to go to Nantucket by herself, right after her friend said they wanted family only. At one point she wonders if she should have told her friend she was going first, and I thought “UM yeah of course you should have!” I questioned Cricket’s intelligence and maturity a bit at the beginning and occasionally throughout the rest of the book. I thought she had a weird attitude towards girls (not necessarily full-on slut-shaming, but certain bits and pieces of it). I don’t expect all books with female MCs to be feminists or even mention anything about feminism, but some little things can be hard for me to swallow if they go directly against things that I believe. She was talking about virginity and said “I didn’t know why it was different for girls. It shouldn’t be, but it was. I hated it when people pretended otherwise (133).” That statement really rubbed me the wrong way because I don’t feel like there are distinct differences between guys and girls, especially in terms of sexuality. Everyone is free to feel how they feel about it. I think this may be one of those “it’s not you, it’s me” situations. Because my beliefs have changed, it’s harder for me to relate to characters who act like I used to act… if that makes sense! I think she does change her tune about towards the very end of the book though. Just a little bit.
Cristina: I definitely had a lot of the same issues with Cricket as you did, especially with her weird relationship with female stereotyping. The slut shaming was annoying and persistent, but unfortunately not necessarily uncommon for high school. What I found more disturbing was the subtler ways in which she expressed views about how females were at the mercy of what the males in their schools/towns/etc. think of them. At the very beginning of the book it mentions a girl who can’t “manage her popularity” and Cricket admires another girl who disappeared from the social scene while promiscuous rumors swirled around her, letting them die before emerging. It seemed like it was applauding the girl for not defending herself. I also found Cricket’s actions to be really abrasive and oddly obsessive at the beginning of the novel, such as speaking at Nina’s funeral (I literally cringed when she stole the show from Jules, even if she WAS floundering). That was something I could never really reconcile, how Cricket made Nina’s death about her. I understand she was close to her best friend’s mom, but I could see Jules’ reasoning for being upset (not that I approve of her behavior either). Cricket is definitely not the worst protagonist I’ve ever read, but I felt like I enjoyed reading the book despite her, rather than because of her.
Lauren: That’s a great way of putting it! She definitely wasn’t my favorite character, but I enjoyed the book overall even though she was in it.
Nantucket is always portrayed as this high class, snooty island where rich people go on vacation. Have you been? Do you think it’s actually like that? Would you want to go?
Cristina: I have never been to Nantucket, but I really want to go after reading this book! I liked that the novel included a cast of characters from a wide variety of social backgrounds, from the super rich political families with houses that have been on the island forever, to European young adults working hard in less than desirable jobs on the island just to live in paradise. The inn scenes were some of my favorite, because it showed a much more personable side to a luxury vacation destination. However, I wouldn’t mind at all being exposed to the life of the fabulously wealthy either. I’ve been to a lot of locations on the West Coast that are perhaps classified as “snooty vacation places” but that’s never marred by enjoyment of them.
Lauren: I’ve always wanted to go to Nantucket too. I remember they went to Nantucket in Gossip Girl (I think in the books but not the movies?) and it’s also been a setting in a LOT of other books I read as a teen. I viewed it as a really interesting place that would be awesome for people watching. I’m sure it’s less “snooty” and more accessible for people. I also enjoyed the scenes at the Inn; it seemed like a lot of the people working there were having fun and living more “regular” lives.
I liked the juxtaposition of her mom’s diary entries to her daily experiences on the island. What did you think about their experiences and how do you think her mom’s diary impacted her summer?
Lauren: I liked seeing a different side to Cricket’s mom! Cricket portrays her as this sad woman who can’t get over her divorce, while her diary entries show how lively and interesting she was in her younger years. I think it helped open her eyes a little to who her mom used to be, and who she could still possibly be. Cricket was able to see her mom in a different light. They had some great mother-daughter moments towards the end too. I remember my mom would never let me read her high school yearbook and I ended up sneaking down and reading it one day. Reading all of the memories people had with her and learning about who she was definitely shaped my opinion of her a little bit. Sometimes we forget that our parents were once teenagers too!
Cristina: I actually LOVED the inclusion of her mom’s diary, because how often do readers complain that the parents don’t play a big enough role in YA? It was the perfect parental plot device because it kept her mom involved and a part of the story without having to shove an awkward middle aged parent into a scenes with a bunch of young adults and twenty somethings. I also loved how fascinated and appalled Cricket was at discovering her mom’s habits as a teenager, because I think we’d all feel a mixture of surprise and horror if we really knew what sorts of shenanigans the adults in our lives had gotten up to as teens.
How does this stack up, for you, among other summer contemporaries you’ve read?
Lauren: I’m a huge fan of summery books like this. I think the best summer contemporaries show a period of growth for the main character. I think someone once said that the best part about Sarah Dessen books is that she perfectly captures how life-changing some summers can be. This book, from that standpoint, hit the mark I think. Nantucket Blue shows Cricket getting stronger and figuring things out for herself. I think she definitely leaves Nantucket as a different person than she entered the island as. I’m definitely interested to see what happens next! Compared to other summer contemporaries, I liked that this one did have some bigger issues, like grief and loss. This book is definitely no Dessen, but it did a good job of hitting on a lot of different topics and areas of Cricket’s life.
Cristina: This book actually stood out among other summer contemporaries for me. While I disliked the amount of slut shaming, I liked that it pushed the boundaries sometimes in the scope of what it talked about, from sexuality to mean-girl bullying to death and selfishness. It felt a little bit different to me and a little bit more real. I can’t wait to read Nantucket Red.
What did you think of the ending? Are you eager to read the second book?
Cristina: Like I said earlier, I am eager to read the second book. However, I did feel like the ending was a little rushed! I wanted to see more of her relationship with her significant other develop, and I wanted to learn more about her mom’s “Lover Boy” who turned out to be someone really interesting. Like you said, I feel like this book touched on so many heavy aspects of Cricket’s life that it would’ve been justified in being a lot longer and fleshing those feelings out.
Lauren: I definitely think the ending was a bit rushed too, which is especially not needed since there’s a sequel! If it were a standalone, I would have wished for a more developed ending. In a duology, she could have left kept the same pace. I am definitely eager to read the second book because I think there are some loose ends everywhere and the relationships overall could use more developing. Although, after reading the synopsis for the second book, I’m a bit nervous…
Have you ever had a similar experience to the one Cricket had with Jay?
Lauren: I was always the kind of girl who had crushes on majorly unattainable guys. You spend years thinking about how perfect they are, just to realize they’re not right for you. I can think of plenty of guys I put on this “dream boyfriend” pedestal, only to find out that they’re really just regular people. Cricket lusts after Jay for so long; when she eventually has a chance with him, she decides he’s not what she expected or what she wanted. I remember reading the parts where she had a specific playlist of songs that reminded her of him (like the song playing in the drugstore when she saw him with his mom) and thought it was a bit creepy… but I remember being younger and doing weird things like that. I just feel like Cricket was a bit immature, because I definitely wasn’t that obsessive at 17.
Cristina: Who hasn’t? I think we’ve all liked someone “unattainable” and/or outside our normal social circle, and 99% of the time I don’t think it ends well. I also think we’ve all had the horrifying moment when we realize a “friend” told said person that you liked them, such as Jules did to Cricket. I think though, that at seventeen (going on eighteen) years old, Cricket handled the situation with Jay pretty immaturely later in the book when he started to show interest. When you’re a pre-teen and a crush eclipses common sense and more meaningful relationships it’s one thing, but when you’ve literally just become an adult it’s another.
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