Disney Book Group
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Nantucket Blue Kindle Edition
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I didn't expect to connect to the narrator as much as I did. After all, Cricket is an athletic teen with a fun name. I'm a klutzy thirtysomething with one of the "most common names from 1978". However, Howland gives us a richly developed contemporary teen... not a stereotype, and not an adult's take on "kids these days". Howland, herself a high school teacher, brought to life a character who fits in to today's world. I've taught many books about teens, and my students often comment that the authors are out of touch, and that the young characters are caricatures. This is not the case with Cricket. I can see and hear her; I can imagine her sitting in my classroom. And though she is today's teen, she has timeless traits that will resonate with adult readers. She's got a strong moral compass, and a slew of very real insecurities that make her even more relatable. Of her best friend, Cricket says, "It was Jules who made me cool. I'd been just a middle-of-the-pack girl before Jules. It was she who told me I was pretty, who convinced me to grow out my hair and cut my bangs and taught me about plucking my eyebrows and what a big difference the right pair of jeans could make." I found myself nodding and picturing my high school best friend as I read this passage. I'm eager to share this book with my students, because Cricket describes her family drama, friendships, and young love in the most human terms. However, I would feel completely comfortable reading this book aloud to my students (or my grandmother) because Howland manages to rouse emotions without going over the top with the cheap tricks that make English teachers (and grandmas) blush.
The minor characters, along with the setting details, rounded out this book, making it much more than a story. As Emily Dickinson, the poet whom Cricket must study during her summer, wrote: "There is no frigate like a book." I encourage you to break out your boat shoes and hop on board Nantucket Blue.