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.
After seeing the cover and learning that this is Elin Hilderbrand’s first historical fiction story, it took me all of two seconds to decide that this is a book I want to read.
Summer of ’69 is about three sisters ranging in age from 13 – 24. Jessica is the baby at 13 years old. She is not looking forward to spending the summer on Nantucket with her grandmother, but her parents insist she go and as hard as she tries there is no getting out of it. Kirby is 20 years old and is looking for a fresh start after a difficult year in college. She plans on living on Martha’s Vineyard and working for the summer. Blair is 24 years old, married and has discovered her husband is not the person she married.
The three girls are all in very different stages of their lives, but they are all experiencing some serious growing pains. Their mother Kate has her own demons that she also must work through, so unfortunately for her daughters she is not much help to them.
Many interesting references to the year 1969 worked their way into this story, such as Apollo 11 and the Chappaquiddick scandal. There were also a lot of TV, movie, and music references that I felt at times went a bit overboard. I did not need to be reminded, around every corner, that the year was 1969.
I was surprised by the amount of drinking, while pregnant, made its way into the story. It is a real eye-opener to see how far we have come in 50 years! I nearly spit out my coffee when Kate handed Blair a screwdriver and says:
“Take a sip,” she says. “The vodka will calm you, and the juice is filled with vitamin C, good for the babies.”
Good for the babies?! Oh my!
I smiled when Jessica found the TV at her grandmother’s house, rabbit ears and all. That was a real flashback for me, yes I am aging myself. Just get me some tin foil and we are in business!
With the summer vibes jumping off of every page this book is best read poolside, at the beach, or while on vacation. Unfortunately I now have a craving for a lobster roll that I must satisfy sooner than later!
*Thank you Little, Brown and Company for my review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.
Other Elin Hilderbrand Books I Have Reviewed:
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: 6/18/2019
*Book 6/20 in the 20 Books of Summer reading challenge.
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