Review: Summerland, by Elin Hilderbrand

Elin Hilderbrand

Product Description/Synopsis (from
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.

My Thoughts:
Summer just wouldn’t be summer without a new book from Elin Hilderbrand, and her latest novel, Summerland was exactly what I needed this year.

I should confess that my introduction to Hilderbrand’s Nantucket came about two years ago when I was browsing in Half Price books with my husband and many visiting relatives. I found her first seven novels there, took them home, and spent most of April reading them before boxing them up and sending them to my mother in Mexico.

This year’s read, Summerland seemed a little more poignant than previous novels, mainly because it opens with the death of a teenager. As well, a good chunk of this novel actually takes place in Australia, where one of said teenager’s friends is ushered by his depressed mother and well-meaning father.

Nevertheless, Hilderbrand works her magic, and gives us slices of summer at the beach like no other can (although Ann Rivers Siddons and Dorothea Benton Frank certainly have their own charm). As always, her female characters are well developed, though not without flaws, and her male characters aren’t quite as rich (though, in this novel, the men we meet are better developed than they have been so far).

While I am always happy to have a new Hilderbrand novel on my summer reading list, one thing that always disappoints me is the fact that her various novels don’t seem to occupy the same version of Nantucket, but separate versions that exist separately for each book. Still, her work is always entertaining.

Goes well with…lemonade and homemade berry pie.