Thanks to the Noisehole podcast for letting me appropriate that joke for the review title (it initially referred to the Red Hot Chili Peppers and California, obviously), but man does Elin Hilderbrand like Nantucket a lot, and cooking apparently, based on my extensive knowledge of her writing (ok, maybe this was only my second of her books, but it’s hammered through on both). I bought this when at goodwill and found the motherlode of good-enough expendable books, and having read Here’s to Us, I figured it was worth the dollar for when I wanted something beach-read-y and insubstantial.
Covid hit and I thought “perfect! I don’t want anything too heavy, I’ll take a beach book on my couch!”
Why does the universe hate me?
This book is depressing as hell. It’s about a teenage girl (Penny) who learns something at a party and drives her boyfriend’s car off a cliff, killing herself and nearly her twin brother, leaving her friend and boyfriend to pick up the pieces. The twins’ mother is having an affair with Penny’s boyfriend’s father, who has become distant from his wife in the wake of their youngest son’s SIDS death.
I swear to god, you guys, I could buy a book called “the happy puppy goes on a picnic” and it would be about genocide.
The book is good, and totally in love with Nantucket, which definitely functions as a character in the book – townies huddling around their own in the wake of tragedy, tourists fluttering by as set dressing – but a beach read this was not. There were also some things I didn’t love, like the fact that everyone just elides over the fact that Penny almost killed everyone in the car in her desperation, she was very nearly a murderer but everyone just sort of misses her and doesn’t really address it. It’s good, but not exactly a light read. Proceed with caution.