Set on Nantucket Island, this sun-soaked, breeze-filled, wave-splashed love story satisfies the senses as it tells the story of seventeen-year-old Abigail Schoenberg as she researches her family’s history, makes new friends, works in a fabulous bookstore, and falls seriously in love. The book is part history, part mystery, part romance, part coming-of-age story, and all delight.
Abigail has unexpectedly come into possession of a stack of old love letters, written to and saved by her late grandmother many years earlier. The letters are mysteriously intriguing. Abigail reads of a long-ago love affair, a missing necklace, and a world of privilege and wealth her grandmother had never mentioned. She doesn’t know much about her grandmother’s personal history, only that she came to the United States alone, as a young child, fleeing the Holocaust. Intrigued by the letters, Abigail determines to learn more about the grandmother she thought she knew so well and decides to spend the summer in Nantucket, the place the letters originated. There she meets Noah Barbanel, son of a wealthy family and the grandson of her grandmother’s long-lost love. Abigail’s summer is filled with joy, heartbreak, self-knowledge, and growth. Hoping to find answers to her elusive family history, Abigail does traditional research but also confronts some of the players in her grandmother’s long-ago, dramatic past, uncovering information about her great-grandparents and their lives in pre-war Germany that affects Abigail and her family in the present day.
Unlike many recent YA novels with Jewish themes, this book does not treat Judaism as a source of tension or conflict, instead showing it as a series of comforting, warm connections that help bring the protagonists together as they figure out where their lives are going and how to achieve their goals.
A combination of romantic summer reading combined with thought-provoking ideas, this book combines the best of both worlds in an engaging story which is sure to be relished page by page and thoroughly enjoyed.
Michal Hoschander Malen is the editor of Jewish Book Council’s young adult and children’s book reviews. A former librarian, she has lectured on topics relating to literacy, run book clubs, and loves to read aloud to her grandchildren.