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.
June 18th, 2019
Elin Hilderbrand is not only the queen of summer reading but she is also an auto-read author for me. I remember taking her book The Castaways on our 2009 honeymoon trip to St. John and it was just the beginning of a long love affair with her writing. At that point, I read everything on her backlist and have read every single one of her book releases since then.
Elin Hilderbrand June book releases always signify the unofficial start of summer for me. Summer of ‘69 was released on June 18th but I grabbed it a couple of weeks early in my Book of the Month box and couldn’t wait to dive in.
I knew going into it that this book would be a little different than her others. While it was still set on the beautiful island of Nantucket, she took us back to 1969 in her first historical fiction novel. I always love reading the authors notes at the beginning of books and Hilderbrand shared that Summer of ’69 was in honor of her 50th birthday, and I loved that connection so much.
Summer of ’69 delivered with Hilderbrand’s gift of the summer beach read while also diving into some historic events like the lunar landing, The Vietnam War and Chappaquiddick.
We meet the Levin family and with this, there is a personal look at feminist issues, the civil rights movement and the life changes and transitions for this family. This book was packed full of powerful moments but was also an enjoyable coming of age story. There were many different personalities and perspectives in this story which made it feel multifaceted while also being a completely engrossing read.
Having grown up in the 80s and 90s I couldn’t connect personally with this time period but she was able to bring me right there with her vivid details and ability to connect the music and other pop culture of this time in history. I highly recommend adding this to your summer reading list!
I can’t wait for the 2nd installment of her Paradise series later this year…and am so happy I don’t have to wait another year for more Hilderbrand writing! If you haven’t checked out the first book in this new trilogy, Winter in Paradise is also a great summer read and What Happens in Paradise will be released in October!