Saturday, June 30, 2012

Review: Summerland by Elin Hilderbrand

Summerland by Elin Hilderbrand
Publisher:Hachette Book Group
Publshed: June 2012

Giddy from excitement of the end of the school year and the beginning of summer, no one expects a tragedy that will alter the lives of Nantucket's year round residents.  Penny Alistair recklessly speeding drives her twin brother, boyfriend, and friend off an embankment.  Initially, everyone thinks it was an accident until the toxicology reports and statements from the others bring up some doubts. With Penny dead, her twin Hobby in a coma, and her boyfriend Jake and friend Demeter unscathed, all the certainties start to unravel.  Tragedy is the great leveler.
As Hobby heals from his injuries, he has to adjust to life without Penny and the loss of his athletic prowess.  His mother, Zoe,  loses a child, has to become nursemaid to a convalescent, and loses a lover in a short period of time.  Jake, Penny's boyfriend, must get used to Penny being gone and being in all the spaces that remind him of her.  When his Dad decides to move to Australia, he is not too happy about it.  After spending the summer away, both he and his father decide to move back to Nantucket and deal with their loose ends
Everyone wonders why Penny would drive so recklessly; she was so disciplined in every other area of her life.  Only Demeter knows why.  Desperate for attention and acceptance, Demeter tells Penny a pretty big secret regarding her family.  Penny, who as it turns out might be more than a little disturbed, flips out and follows the course of action which leads to her death.  Shaken, Demeter keeps this incident to herself and tries to keep a tough front. 
I really tried to like this book but couldn't get into it.  Summerland seems a little heavy for beach reading.  It's set in one of those claustrophobic towns where everyone is all in each other's business and have the sort of relationships that require charts to follow.  For all the gossiping in the town, several significant secrets are kept simply because people ignore what they don't want to see.  Like apparently actively ignoring your kid's obvious problems isn't going to help them get any better. Who would have thought?  It just seemed like so many problems could have been solved if people tried to have actual conversations with each other as opposed to avoiding any conversations that could have gone unpredictably.
** This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.**

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