Nantucket Blue


By Leila Howland

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"Utterly romantic and fun. I didn't want Nantucket Blue to end." —New York Times bestselling author Jenny Han

One summer changes everything in this romantic, emotional, unputdownable story of love and friendship, perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Sarah Dessen 

For Cricket Thompson, a summer like this one will change everything. A summer spent on Nantucket with her best friend, Jules Clayton, and the indomitable Clayton family. A summer when she'll make the almost unattainable Jay Logan hers. A summer to surpass all dreams.

Some of this turns out to be true. Some of it doesn't.

When Jules and her family suffer a devastating tragedy that forces the girls apart, Jules becomes a stranger whom Cricket wonders whether she ever really knew. And instead of lying on the beach working on her caramel-colored tan, Cricket is making beds and cleaning bathrooms to support herself in paradise for the summer. But it's the things Cricket hadn't counted on –most of all, falling hard for someone who should be completely off-limits. — that turn her dreams into an exhilarating, bittersweet reality.

A beautiful future is within her grasp, and Cricket must find the grace to embrace it. If she does, her life could be the perfect shade of Nantucket blue.

"[Howland] evokes the Nantucket setting vividly . . . when it comes to indulgent beach reading, sometimes it's more fun to get pushed over by a wave than to stay safely on your towel." — The New York Times

"Readers should feel empowered by Cricket's efforts to grow up into a strong, honest, and emotionally intelligent young woman, even as they are enchanted by the romantic and exclusive island setting. This is a natural beach read, but will easily win Howland year-round fans, too." –Publishers Weekly, starred review "Sand, secrets, Nantucket Reds, and romance. A fresh, feel-good debut." — Boston Globe

"Utterly romantic and fun. I didn't want Nantucket Blue to end." — New York Times best-selling author Jenny Han

"Several elements in this novel make it a little more than just another summer romance. Cricket's struggle to define herself apart from Jules, her decision to follow her heart, and her realization that she can rise above her parents' divorce make this a story that many teens will find absorbing." —VOYA

"It's going to be the perfect summer for Providence teenager Cricket Thompson. She'll live with her friend Jules' family in their Nantucket house and pursue Jay Logan, the boy of her dreams. But tragedy strikes Jules' life and everything changes, including their friendship. Cricket does end up on Nantucket, but living in the inn where she works long, hard hours. To her surprise, she falls in love with entirely the wrong person — and learns how magical love can be. A rich satisfying novel for high school students (and older)." — Providence Journal

"Fans of Sarah Dessen will find much to like here, as the charm of this summery yarn lies in Cricket's open appeal. Readers will root for her as she falls down, takes her lumps, and moves forward to her final year in high school, always remembering what she learned under the Nantucket sun." — School Library Journal



THANK YOU to my wonderful agent and friend, the incomparable Sara Crowe. I love being on this journey with you and am very lucky to have you on my side. I am so grateful to my editor, the excellent Emily Meehan, for believing in this book and challenging me to make it better. It’s an honor to work with you. A special thanks goes to Elizabeth Holcomb for her careful copyediting, and the entire team at Disney-Hyperion for their hard work and enthusiasm.

Thank you to Kayla Cagan and Vanessa Napolitano for their friendship, wisdom, and guidance as, chapter by chapter, they helped this story grow from an idea into a manuscript; and to Elena Evangelo and Brandy Colbert for their assistance with revisions.

I am indebted to the people who educated me about beautiful Nantucket, especially Eileen McGrath. Not only does she know everything about the island, a half hour in her company is a tonic for the soul. Thank you to the Island Reef Guest House for providing an affordable place to stay on Nantucket while I researched, and to Bob Crowe for his hospitality and generosity. Thanks to Ethan Rutherford for our many conversations about writing and publishing, Richard Rushfield for his insight into journalism, and Melissa Pennacchia Nash for sharing her knowledge of lacrosse.

Thank you to my family: my mom, my dad, Gifford, Maryhope, Elizabeth, and Meredith. I also thank my aunt, Mimi Freeman, for her faith in me from the start. Thank you to all the teachers and friends who have supported my writing over the years, especially Hettie Jones, Alison Singh Gee, Gay Cima, Robert Florin, Jim Hines, Maria Collins, Larkin Hatchett Peters, Paola Fantini, Alice Johnson Boher, Kate Snow, Gina Hirsch, Lisa Bastoni Boucher, Patty Smith, and, of course, Izzy Smith Haring.

And to my husband, my sweetheart, Jonathan Davis. I value your brilliance, humor, and love beyond words. Thank you for everything.


I NEVER LIKED THE LAST FEW DAYS of summer vacation. Hot without the promise of beach days, heavy with the knowledge that a whole school year is ahead, and stuck in a muggy haze between summer and fall, they're the slowest days of the year. Today felt like the most in-between day of all. It was almost eleven o'clock and I was still in bed. The sun streaked through the blinds and made patterns on the walls. I stared at the ceiling, watching the fan go around and around. Zack was starting boarding school tomorrow and we still hadn't discussed whether we were going to stay together or break up. How was it that only a week ago we were at Steps Beach, kissing under the stars, with what felt like an ocean of time sparkling ahead of us?

A few days after we'd returned to Providence, Zack told me he was going to Hanover Academy, an elite boarding school in northern New Hampshire. I understood why he was leaving. His mom, Nina, had died in June and his dad and sister, Jules, had completely shut down. Who could blame them?

Nina was the most alive person I'd ever met. I loved her, too. She taught me how to ice skate backward. She taught me how to make a perfect vinaigrette. She introduced me to Frida Kahlo and William Carlos Williams. She made the best paella. There was no one like her, and now she was gone. Mr. Clayton and Jules were shadows of their previous selves. Zack was living with ghosts.

Hanover would give him a chance to start fresh and be among the living. When he told me that a space had opened up at the last minute and he was taking it, I was happy for him. It didn't feel real. I still had Nantucket sand in my shoes. I was so dizzy-happy in love with him that nothing felt real, but it was starting to sink in: the boy I'd risked everything for this summer was going away. He was coming over in a few hours to spend the afternoon with me, and we had to decide what to do. Break up? I wondered as I kicked off the sheets. Stay together, I thought, and sat up.

I lifted my hair off my sweaty neck, twisted it into a bun, and turned on my laptop. When I logged onto Facebook, Zack's new profile picture was at the top of my feed. He'd taken down the photo of himself on the beach in Nantucket and replaced it with one of himself in a Hanover Academy sweatshirt. No, I thought.

Jules commented: "Don't forget your jockstrap!"

A flurry of "good lucks" and "have funs" and more specific comments followed, references to Hanover that I didn't understand. No, stay with me, I thought and felt myself contract and stiffen. My jaw tightened. My stomach clenched. I wanted to hold on to him and keep him in my world, our world. This feeling, this panicky collapse, was opposite of the sweet effervescence I felt when I was with him; it was foreign and unwelcome, and it didn't feel like love.


On Sale
May 7, 2013
Page Count
304 pages

Leila Howland

About the Author

A graduate of Georgetown University, Leila Howland spent five years acting in New York in everything from an MTV public service announcement for safe sex to a John Guare play at Lincoln Center, and was a proud company member of the award-winning Flea Theater in Tribeca. Currently, she is a school librarian in Los Angeles, where she lives with her family.

Learn more about this author