Blog Tour: Nantucket Red by Leila Howland

Rating: 5 stars
Pub Date: May 13, 2014
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Genre: young adult contemporary romance
Format/Source: ARC, from the publisher
Status: Book 2 of the Nantucket Blue series

Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review as part of the blog tour, which was organized & hosted by Shane of Itching for Books. The full tour schedule can be found HERE. Please go give my fellow tour hosts some love!

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 was really happy with Nantucket Blue. I thought it was a fun, sweet summer read with plenty of substance, and I was very satisfied with the way it ended. So, naturally, when I found out about Nantucket Red's existence, I felt like my heart was going to burst out of my chest. Because in the world of contemporary romance (or any kind of romance, I suppose), a sequel means one thing: conflict. And sure enough, the summary for Red had me reaching for the tissues. Why? WHY, LEILA?! Why would you betray your readers so?! I can't tell you how much anxiety I felt for this book because I LOVE Cricket and Zack together. The two of them apart, I just don't know how to handle that.

The first thing I need to mention is the pacing. I think Leila did a phenomenal job taking what was a summer book and creating a sequel that hits the high points of the rest of the year without rushing and then bringing us back to the heart of summer. It's not like Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, which always glossed over the events of the year. In this case, what happens in November, in December, at graduation are the events that set up the rest of the book. There's enough time for Cricket and Jules to resolve their relationship and introduce the bulk of Cricket and Zack's conflict. There's enough time for Cricket to become motivated to head back to Nantucket. Meanwhile, Leila does cut out the unnecessary things. This has never been a series about the rest of the year. It's a summer series. I'm not saying it's a bad thing to showcase the ins and outs of school or of senior year, but simply, those things don't quite matter in this book, in this series. Cricket doesn't get on the ferry until chapter twelve, but those first eleven chapters were essential.

Although I really enjoyed Blue (four stars worth), now that I've read Red, I think this sequel was quite necessary, and that's what made me bump it up to five. I didn't know that I needed this sequel until I read it, and now, I can't imagine only having Blue. The reason Red is so essential is because of Cricket. She's the kind of girl who seems to define herself by her relationships. Her relationship with her mom is kind of meh after her parents' divorce, her relationship with her dad is nearly nonexistant. Jules is her leader, and she fairly worships Nina. After Nina died and her friendship with Jules seemed to crumble, Cricket was adrift, which is why she went to Nantucket in the first place. She wasn't able to repair her friendship with Jules–yet–but she managed to find Zack. Now that she and Zack are broken up, it's kind of back to square one. I love that her stepmom's parents give her the push to strike out on her own on Nantucket, and I love that Cricket rises to the occasion. Cricket is tested in so many ways in Red, and I love that she takes the hits and keeps on keeping on. I attempted to review Blue, but I found that there wasn't much to say other than I enjoyed it. This time I can say that Cricket is an everywoman with tough situations and, at times, just plain sucky circumstances but she manages to fight her way to the top. This book really is all about Cricket, and I think that's awesome.

I met Leila at TLA this year, and I asked her if she was going to surprise us with any more books like Nantucket Green, and she gave me a noncommittal answer. I take that to mean, in typical author fashion, that it's not a yes, but if the story is there, it could be a maybe. And honestly? I'd be okay with another one. Sure, that means more conflict, but I think the way Cricket handles everything that happens in Red and where she and Zack stand at the end of the book, the two of them are more than prepared to handle whatever else may come at them. I think they're no longer floating aimlessly in the naive cloud of first love. There's serious heartbreak in Red, yes, but it served to shape two people whose eyes are open to the sometimes harsh realities of life but whose hearts are also open to love and trust and friendship. If Leila does end up adding more books to the saga of Cricket and Zack, I will read them gladly, and I hope you will too.

Book Buy Links:

About the Author:

Leila Howland was born and raised in Providence, Rhode Island. A graduate of Georgetown University, Leila spent five years acting in New York where she was a company member of the award-winning Flea Theater in Tribeca.  Nantucket Blue, for which she was named a Publisher's Weekly Flying Start Author,  was her first novel. Leila now lives in Los Angeles with her husband and dogs.
 Author Links:

One winner will receive a copy of Nantucket Blue and Nantucket Red. US only.

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  1. These sound great. I love your comment about the pacing, how the events set up the rest of the book. Would definitely give these a chance, especially if I win. :)

  2. I've wanted to read this series for a while now but it keeps slipping by. It really does sound like a great read. So glad you enjoyed it!

  3. Really nice review. So cool you got to meet Leila and that Green idea isn't so bad :)

  4. I love, love, LOVE this series!! I am about to start this book and I can't wait!

    Kate @ Ex Libris

  5. Okay, I added it to my TBR pile. I have been on the fence about the series, but you sold me :) Great review :)