From the publisher:
Four siblings experience the drama, intrigue, and upheaval of a summer when everything changed, in New York Times bestselling author Elin Hilderbrand’s first historical novel
Welcome 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 like so much else in America, nothing is the same: Blair, the oldest sister, is marooned in Boston, pregnant with twins and unable to travel. Middle sister Kirby, caught up in the thrilling vortex of civil rights protests and determined to be independent, takes a summer job on Martha’s Vineyard. 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 and her worried mother, each of them hiding a troubling secret. As the summer heats up, Ted Kennedy sinks a car in Chappaquiddick, man flies to the moon, and Jessie and her family experience their own dramatic upheavals along with the rest of the country.
In her first historical novel, rich with the details of an era that shaped both a nation and an island thirty miles out to sea, Elin Hilderbrand once again earns her title as queen of the summer novel.
I was ten years old during the summer of 1969, just a few years younger than the youngest sibling in this story. I remember a lot about what was happening then.
I was a big reader, including newspapers; we got the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and Newsday, and I read them all cover to cover. I never had enough reading materials. My parents were not readers and back then books were a special occasion gift. My mom would take me to the library once a week, wait outside in her car, so I always felt rushed, not to mention that the library limited the number of books I was allowed to borrow. I don’t recall exactly, but it was something like 3-5 books at a time. I could read that many children’s books in a day. When I ran out of children’s books, the librarian let me borrow adult books. I read everything I could get my hands on.
I knew about Vietnam and it scared me. I don’t really remember Chappaquidick, but I definitely remember the man walking on the moon. All that comes up during the Summer of ’69, wrapped up in a family that lived through it all.
While the publisher notes that this is Hilderbrand’s first historical novel, the rest is pure Hilderbrand. She is known for fabulous beach reads, and this certainly fits the bill. The family, Nantucket, the romance, the squabbling, it’s all here. I was immediately caught up in the story and these characters, and she does a really good job making them all come to life.
There are deeper issues woven throughout the story; racism, sexual abuse, domestic abuse, suicide, and more all come to light, making this a very satisfying read. Lots for book groups to discuss for sure. I really enjoyed this book, though it was more nostalgic than historical for me.
10/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™
SUMMER OF ’69 by Elin Hilderbrand. Random House (June 18, 2019). ISBN 978-0525510871. 384p.