Sunday, June 23, 2019

Review: Summer of '69 by Elin Hilderbrand (audio)

Title: Summer of '69
Author: Elin Hilderbrand
Narrator: Erin Bennett
Published: June 2019, Hachette Audio / Little, Brown & Company
Length: 13 hours 34 minutes / 432 pages
Source: Audio - via Hachette Audio via   / Print - via Little Brown & Company

Follow New York Times bestselling author Elin Hilderbrand back in time and join a Nantucket family as they experience the drama, intrigue, and upheaval of a 1960s summer.
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 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 thoughts: To me, there is nothing that indicates the start of the summer season better than having a new Elin Hilderbrand book in hand!!! Once again I was able to see her at this year's Book Expo where she was signing copies of her latest book and handing out a beer - I have not missed this signing once in all the years I've been attending Book Expo and I adore getting to see Elin as much as I enjoy that beer at the end of a long day!

I have been reading Elin's books for a long time, and I loved that this year, she did something different. This year, she wrote her first "historical novel" and let me just tell you - I loved it!!! I loved that she still stayed true to her roots, having the book set on her beloved Nantucket, but she took a time in history and made it come alive. Her characters, as always, are so richly drawn, and this time, she uses the events that happened that summer - Vietnam, the landing on the moon and the Chappaquiddick incident. 

The Levin Family is made up of memorable, endearing family members. They are all struggling this summer and I loved that we heard from each of them. This was such a tumultuous time in history, especially for women's rights and I loved that Elin used that in her book. Each of the Levin women struggled with something and took a stand for what they believed in. It couldn't have been easy for them to stand up for themselves, standing up against societal norms, but they did it and I applauded them all the way!

This was such an engaging read, filled with family secrets and a simpler life (no social media, cell phones, etc) that is still somehow just as complicated. I felt that I was equally invested everyone's story and I actually loved the ending - no spoilers here, but I think it was just right. Perhaps there will be a sequel to this book, but even if there isn't, I think it ended on just the right note.

Audio thoughts: Once again, Erin Bennett has nailed an Elin Hilderbrand book. She really gets the nuances of Elin's characters and her writing so that the narration and storytelling just comes naturally. Erin gives each character their own unique voices and personality and her intonation and pacing is spot on. I enjoy listening to Elin's books on audio and Erin Bennett did a good job bringing this story to life!


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