Publisher: Disney Hyperion.
eBook, 288 pages.
Release date: May 13th 2014.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Series: Nantucket #2.
Other Books in Series: Nantucket Blue.
Source: Received from publisher for review.
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.
It’s another summer on Nantucket for Cricket Thompson, and better yet, all the gang are back! But, wait: rewind. Leila Howland’s sequel to the sun-dapped Nantucket Blue doesn’t begin on the beach. Instead we catch up with Cricket as she embarks on her final year at school, and presses pause on her relationship with Zack, he of the “kisses in the surf and champagne boat rides” of Blue. Zack is leaving for boarding school in Connecticut and Cricket doesn’t want to do long distance. Instead, she thinks a pause might work; Zack loves her just as she loves him, and Cricket is sure they can pick up again in summer. Lacrosse star Cricket’s year flies by, and, ever the high-achiever she lands an almost-pays-for-everything-scholarship to Brown University. It’s a dream come true for Cricket and since she wants the full university experience, she heads back to Nantucket, because, that scholarship of hers, it doesn’t quite stretch to accommodation expenses.
Nantucket holds a lot of fond memories for Cricket; bike rides to “Something Natural”, her job at the Cranberry Inn with exuberant Brit Liz, and of course, falling in love with Zack. But Zack and Cricket are no longer together. Due to a disastrous case of miscommunication, it looks as though, instead of pausing, their relationship has come to a permanent full stop. Even worse, Zack has a new girlfriend. It’s heartbreak time for Cricket, but she needs to get a job to raise those funds, and, after all, there are other boys in the world. Namely hot surfer boys called Ben, who play guitar, and have a whole lot of relationship baggage to boot.
Ah, Ben. The love interest of Red didn’t capture my interest in the way of Cricket and Zack’s sweet romance, but this hot, older guy is a nice distraction for our girl all the same. And, distracted is the name of the game, in Red, because, well, Cricket seems a little out of focus in this book. And if you know Cricket at all, being a little out of focus is a lot out of character. Cricket is a diligent student, in fact, she’s all-round sensible and well-behaved, but in this book she acquires a penchant for rule-breaking, and it lands her in a whole lot of trouble. In fact, Cricket’s mistake could jeopardize her whole future. In that way, Blue, which was all about discovery; first love, coming of age, the end of childhood, in a way, is more charming than Red. I guess Cricket isn’t that sweet, innocent girl of Blue anymore. She’s seen a bit of the world and she’s gotten to know herself better. She’s fallen in love and had her heart broken - and it shows in her distracted and sometimes careless actions. But then, as Cricket is about to learn: not everything can be perfect all of the time. And, of course, we all make mistakes. Mistakes are part of life; they’re the flawed parts that sometimes make life more interesting. Sometimes, mistakes can even be fun.
Zack is summering on Nantucket too, of course. With his girlfriend. As is Jules. Now, I was not a fan of Jules in Blue, so it was good to see the redemption of her character here. In many aspects, Jules is still as self-centered as she ever was. Jules has her faults and she’s not a favourite character of mine, but her friendship with Cricket really rings true. Cricket and Jules may be moving apart, but they have a shared history that neither of them wants to deny. In a way Jules’s mom, Nina, who died just as Blue began, brings Cricket and Jules back together and is very much present in this book due to a Bucket List of hers which Cricket finds hidden behind an old photograph. Nina’s “Life List” provides the sub-plot to this book; much as Cricket’s mom’s hilarious teenage diaries provide the same in Blue. But while I loved finding out more about the character of Nina, and I was thankful that Jules got a chance at redemption, my absolute favourite character in this book was Liz, she of the “Cranberry Inn.” In Liz, I think Cricket has found a friend for life, and if Leila Howland ever wanted to try her hand at writing New Adult, then in Liz, she has the perfect female protagonist for some NA hi-jinks!
While Nantucket Red lacks a little of the charm of its predecessor, it is nonetheless a super sweet summer read, adorably written, with a pitch-perfect voice and relatable characters. Cricket has another eventful summer on Nantucket and while it’s Ben who provides a welcome distraction to her days and nights, another boy – you know who – forever occupies her heart.
Will Cricket and Zack get their happy ever after? You’ll just have to read this one (on the beach!) to find out!