cover image Summer of ’69

Summer of ’69

Elin Hilderbrand. Little, Brown, $28 (432p) ISBN 978-0-316-42001-3

Hilderbrand (Winter in Paradise) delivers a superb novel about the goings-on of a family during the summer of 1969 in Nantucket, centered on four siblings. Mother Kate Levin has taken to drinking after her only son, Tiger, is drafted and sent to Vietnam. Kate has agreed to let her family’s longtime caretaker Bill stay on their property with his grandson Pick in exchange for using Bill’s army connections to keep Tiger safe and away from the front. Blair, the eldest sibling, pregnant with twins, gave up a promising career and a shot at Harvard at the behest of her astrophysicist husband, Angus, who is preoccupied with the upcoming moon landing and has deep spells of depression; Blair flees to Nantucket when Angus says he cheated on her. Middle sister Kirby is trying to clear her head on Martha’s Vineyard after getting arrested for protesting and ending an affair with a married man. She finds herself judged by the family of the man she’s now seeing, likely, she believes, because of their interracial relationship. Jessie, the youngest, gets a crush on Pick and hits puberty as she bears witness to how shame and propriety drive her family members, and how they suffer because of it. The sisters manage to slay their own demons while finding strength in their siblinghood. Hilderbrand hits all the right notes about life in a tightly knit family, and this crowd-pleaser is sure to satisfy both her fans and newcomers alike.[em] (June) [/em]