Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Audiobook Review: Summerland by Elin Hilderbrand

Title:  Summerland

Author:  Elin Hilderbrand

Narrator:  Erin Bennett

Unabridged Length:  13 hrs, 21 mn.

Here is a summary of the boo from the Goodreads website

It's June 15th, the night of Nantucket High School graduation. Four juniors are driving home from a party when something goes horribly wrong and there is a crash. The driver of the car, Penny Alistair, is killed, and her twin brother, Hobby Alistair, is left in a coma. Penny's boyfriend, Jake Randolph, and Penny's friend Demeter Castle are unhurt--but suffer tremendous emotional damage. Jake and his family move to the other side of the globe--to the west coast of Australia--in order to escape the horrors of the accident. Demeter falls prey to alcohol abuse and other self-destructive behaviors that nearly lead to her destroying her own life.

SUMMERLAND delves into the circumstances surrounding this accident, the roots of which lie deep in the past, with the first interactions between these four friends and their parents. It's a novel about how tragedy affects individuals, families, and the island community as a whole, and how healing can happen, in even the most devastating circumstances.

My Review:
I started listening to this audiobook in an attempt to escape this never-ending winter that has enveloped Northern Wisconsin.   I thought a trip to Nantucket would fit the bill, but little did I know how much sadness would come along with this story.  There are several main characters in this story that are affected by Penny's death and we watch them all try to continue on with their lives as different chapters are dedicated to different character's viewpoints.

Penny was a beautiful young girl with her whole life ahead of her.  Everyone expected her voice to open many doors for her professionally in the future.  No-one can understand what would cause this girl with such a bright future to cause the fatal accident that would end in her own demise.  How could her actions be so irrational with her brother, boyfriend, and a good friend, riding as passengers in the vehicle?

All of our characters struggle with the loss of Penny, but they also have their own secrets.  Throughout the book they let their secrets fester, many thinking they alone are responsible for Penny acting the way she did.  The sadness they all feel seems to take over the tone of the book, making me feel we would never learn what caused Penny to crash the car.  Finally, after receiving tidbits from a few of the characters, enough is revealed to help us understand her actions.

Bennett did a great job narrating this story of sadness and loss.  I'm sure her narration helped to heighten my emotions, bringing me to tears several times.  As sad as this book was, I did still enjoy it, and you may also with it's themes of love, secrets, and loss.  I don't hesitate in recommending this novel for either personal leisure or as a book club discussion.

My Rating:  4/5

Disclosure:  This audiobook is from my personal library and I listened to it for my own entertainment.


bermudaonion said...

I love Hilderbrand's books!

Unknown said...

I'm so glad you liked the narration! Check out Elin Hilderbrand's other books set on Nantucket- The Matchmaker, Winter Street, and the upcoming The Rumor. I love narrating her books as the characters leap off the page- and sweep me away every time :)