Book Reviews

Summerland by Elin Hilderbrand book review

Not long just put this book down. It was in the box of books that my bestie from across the pond, Stephanie, sent me 🙂



A warm June evening, a local tradition: the students of Nantucket High have gathered for a bonfire on the beach. What begins as a graduation night celebration ends in tragedy after a horrible car crash leaves the driver, 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. 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.

Aww this book. I never expected it to be so heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. Elin really knew how to write about certain issues.

You have the twins Hobby and Penny who are the stars of the school. Hobby because of his athletic nature and Penny because of her amazing singing voice. Then there’s Jake, Penny’s boyfriend. The pair are so madly in love with each other, like properly forever and ever in love with each other.
And then there’s Demeter. The girl whose overweight, smelly and wants nothing more than to be accepted. They’ve all been friends since they were little so they’ve stuck together throughout everything.

And then tragedy strikes. At the graduation party at the beach something upsets Penny. The other three are drunk so she drives them home. Except she doesn’t drive them home. She gets faster and faster until eventually the car crashes.

Penny is DOA. Hobby has 16 broken bones and is in a coma. The other two are shaken up but not a scratch on them.

So what happened?

In a series of flashbacks we learn about the other family’s on Nantucket Island, aswell as that of the children.

We learn about Penny and Hobby’s mom, Zoe, and about her life before she had the twins.

We learn about Jake’s parents, Jordan and Ava and how they’ve gone through the trauma of losing a baby and how their marriage is breaking up.

And we learn about Demeter’s parents, Lynne and Al, and how they are going through turbulent times with their teenage daughter.

You read about how the whole Island and the characters come to terms with Penny’s death. How things and secrets are uncovered and how people aren’t as perfect as they seem.

It was a brilliant story and the issues…

You had Demeter whose the 17 year old alcoholic who wants so desperately to fit in at school. She can be spiteful though but at the same time you feel sorry for her. She’s bullied by the other children at school and her loneliness only heightens her drinking problems. You go through a love/hate relationship with here feeling angry about what she does to herself and others but at the same time part of you can understand her loneliness.

Then there’s Jake. Who is in his own way is going through personal hell. Penny was and always will be the love of his life and her not being there is killing him.

Then there’s Hobby. All time sports star whose going through rehabilitation to get his body mended and is told that he’ll never play again. That and he has to go through the trauma of losing his twin sister. But things sort of go well for him and you can’t help but love him.

And of course there’s Penny. We only get to see her briefly at the beginning but through flashbacks we learn about her and how utterly depressed she was and how she could only talk to Ava, whose also depressed, about her problems.

I can see where Hobby comes from when he learns about Ava and Penny. Especially when he believes that Ava was grooming Penny in the art of depression.

I loved this book. So many things happened, so many issues dealt with. And in the end a sort of happy ending. One that makes you believe that all the characters left will be okay.

5 out of 5 stars


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