Little, Brown and Company. 433 pages. Pub Date: June 18, 2019
This was my June BOTM choice. I started reading it almost immediately and then got distracted with life and work and other books. But this past Sunday, I came back to revisit this book and ended up flying through it. Summer of ’69 is a wonderful foray into historical fiction from one of my favorite authors.
Like seeing an old friend, I loved traveling back to Nantucket, but this time it was during the tumultuous summer of 1969. The United States was getting ready to send astronauts to walk on the surface of the moon. It was also embroiled in the war in Vietnam. There was social unrest, protests against the war. People took up the cause of civil rights and women’s rights.
This is a story of a family. This time it’s the Levin family, who spends their summers on Nantucket every year. Kate, the matriarch, is troubled because her only son, Tiger, was drafted and left for Vietnam. Blair, the oldest daughter, is pregnant and not able to come to Nantucket this summer. Kirby, the middle daughter, decides to go to Martha’s Vineyard with a friend from college. She had been caught up in the civil rights protests and now wants to work and break away from her family. That leaves the youngest daughter, Jessie, to stay with her mother and her difficult grandmother, Exalta, at her grandmother’s summer home in Nantucket. I love the descriptions of Nantucket because I always feel like I am right there on that island. Even the simple pleasure of eating a lobster roll is written with such detail that I felt like I was sitting with Kirby and her friend at the restaurant overlooking the water as they ate lunch. I feel like I know the beaches, the town, the houses.
As I read, I felt nostalgic for my own summers long past when life seemed so simple and carefree. The memories washed over me. Summer vacations at the Jersey shore. Walking along the boardwalk. Going to my grandparent’s house and driving to get ice cream every night. Eating my grandmother’s tomato pie. I can still see the red geraniums on the porch steps.
I really enjoyed this book and I can always count on an Elin Hilderbrand book to snap me out of a book slump. I enjoyed the historical aspect. It also felt like much of the book was told through Jessie, who at 13, was going through becoming an adolescent so this book felt a little bit like a coming of age story as well.
This book is a great choice for anyone who like historical fiction, a good beach read and stories about families. Summer of ’69 gets 4 🏖🏖🏖🏖 out of 5. And the book cover is wonderful too. It has the carefree feeling of a long-ago summer.