Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Summer of '69


Author: Elin Hilderbrand
Genre: Historical Fiction, Women's Fiction
Type: Trade Paperback
Pages: 432
Source: Local Public Library
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
First Published: June 18, 2019
Opening Lines: "When the Selective Service notice comes for Tiger, Kate's first instinct is to throw it away. Surely this is every American mother's first instinct?"

Book Description from GoodReadsWelcome to the most tumultuous summer of the twentieth century! It's 1969, and for the Levin family, the times they are a-changing. Every year the children have looked forward to spending the summer at their grandmother's historic home in downtown Nantucket: but this year Blair, the oldest sister, is marooned in Boston, pregnant with twins and unable to travel. Middle sister Kirby, a nursing student, is caught up in the thrilling vortex of civil rights protests, a passion which takes her to Martha's Vineyard with her best friend, Mary Jo Kopechne. Only son Tiger is an infantry soldier, recently deployed to Vietnam. Thirteen-year-old Jessie suddenly feels like an only child, marooned in the house with her out-of-touch grandmother who is hiding some secrets of her own. As the summer heats up, Teddy Kennedy sinks a car in Chappaquiddick, a man flies to the moon, and Jessie experiences some sinking and flying herself, as she grows into her own body and mind.

In her first "historical novel," rich with the details of an era that shaped both a country and an island thirty miles out to sea, Elin Hilderbrand once again proves her title as queen of the summer novel.


My Rating: 3 stars

My Review: In this latest book, Elin Hilderbrand takes her readers back to the summer of 1969 and incorporates vivid descriptions of the era's music and the atmosphere of Nantucket Island as the story follows one family through a tumultuous summer.

Through the POVs of the Levin/Foley family, Hilderbrand includes many events and issues that influenced the era -- Vietnam warm, Woodstock, women's rights, racism, man's first walk on the moon, anti-Semitism etc. But while these issues were pertinent to the era, most are introduced without much detail or follow through, with some merely being mentioned in passing. The story began to feel contrived as issues felt like they were shoehorned into the lives of this one family in order to get all the important historical dates of the era mentioned. 


Overall, I thought this was a good, light, escapist summer read filled with complicated family dynamics set within the backdrop rich in political unrest, war and civil uncertainty. While it was a lighter read that felt more family drama than Historical Fiction, I enjoyed picturing what life was like on Nantucket during that summer and humming along to the popular music as it was mentioned throughout the story. Fans who enjoy lighter reads with a satisfying, if predictable, ending will enjoy this summer read.

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