Good Reads: Summer of '69 by Elin Hilderbrand

Good Reads Synopsis:

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 this year Blair, the oldest sister, is marooned in Boston, pregnant with twins and unable to travel. Middle sister Kirby, a nursing student, is caught up in the thrilling vortex of civil rights protests, a passion which takes her to Martha's Vineyard with her best friend, Mary Jo Kopechne. 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 who is hiding some secrets of her own. As the summer heats up, Teddy Kennedy sinks a car in Chappaquiddick, a man flies to the moon, and Jessie experiences some sinking and flying herself, as she grows into her own body and mind.

My Thoughts:

Overall, I enjoyed this book and it's worth a read; however, there are pros and cons.
I've always been fascinated with the time period that this novel is set in and was happy to have historical fiction that wasn't set during World War II, the 1920s, or in the 1800s. The 1960s was such a rich decade in American history - civil rights, women's rights/liberation, the Space Race, JFK and RFK's assignations, mental health stigma, the Vietnam War, interracial relationships, and many more.  This is where I feel the book started going wrong. There were just too many of these "issues" incorporated in to the book that I wish the author had spent more time on just one or two. One character was dealing with mental health issues, another was fighting against societal norms for women of the time, a third was drafted to Vietnam, and the second oldest child was dealing with civil rights and navigating an interracial relationship. Instead of going in depth and allowing the reader to grasp one or two feelings of the era, the book gave a general overview and hovered over each topic and, therefore, it doesn't allow you to feel for the character. There was just so much going on, which, I guess, you could say the same of the '60s. My second problem with the novel is the amount of characters. On top of the number of characters, they all had heavy backstories. The saving grace was that each character was very different and unique in his or her own way. This kept me from forgetting who was who from chapter to chapter.

I still enjoyed this book more than many, many others I've read this year. I think I'm being so hard on it because I wanted it to be amazing. Earlier in the summer I read The Perfect Couple by Elin Hilderbrand that just blew me away. Elin Hilderbrand is a talented and enjoyable author and I look forward to what she does next!


  1. I've had mixed feelings about her books in the past and will probably read this one eventually, but glad to hear your review of it here!

  2. Really tough when each of the characters is so involved...I may wait to read this! thanks for your review!

  3. This one is on my TBR, but I may hold off on it. Sounds like there was a lot going on.