Title: Summerland by Elin Hilderbrand
Publisher: Hachette Book Group
Imprint: Reagan Arthur Books/Little, Brown and Company
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction
Length: 391 pages
Book Rating: B
Review Copy Obtained from Publisher
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.
How well do we know our husbands, wives, children, friends, and neighbors? In Summerland, Elin Hilderbrand’s newest release, that answer becomes painfully clear in the aftermath of a fatal car wreck. The survivors and their families search for answers to the cause of the crash uncovers several shocking secrets that will forever change their lives.
Living year round on the island of Nantucket, the Alistair, Randolph and Castle families are close friends. Their children, twins Penny and Hobby Alistair, Jake Randolph and Demeter Castle have been friends since pre-school. The families’ lives are intricately intertwined through their children’s relationships, school activities and close friendships. They have supported one another through difficult losses, celebrated the children’s various triumphs and lend a helping hand whenever one is needed. That all changes following the horrific car wreck that leaves Penny dead, Hobby in a coma and Jake and Demeter physically unscathed but emotionally devastated.
Everyone reacts in different ways in the days, weeks and months after the accident. Penny and Hobby’s mother, Zoe, withdraws and concentrates all her attention on her remaining child. Jordan and Ava, Jake’s parents, distance themselves both emotionally and physically. Al and Lynne, Demeter’s parents, continue to help Zoe despite her indifference to them.
Instead of chapters Summerland unfolds from each of the characters’ and the townspeople’s viewpoints. Through flashbacks, we learn how everyone ended up where they are today. Important facts about the individual people and their families are revealed. Their hopes, their fears, their vulnerabilities. Eventually their deepest and most closely guarded secrets are exposed. It is only after the ugly facts are brought to light that the healing process can finally begin.
Summerland by Elin Hilderbrand is an outstanding read. It is breathtakingly poignant but it is also incredibly uplifting. The characters are so beautifully and realistically drawn that you cannot help but get caught up in their compelling story of friendship, love, loss and new beginnings.