Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Book Review: 28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand

Pages: 432
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: June 16, 2020
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "When Mallory Blessing's son, Link, receives deathbed instructions from his mother to call a number on a slip of paper in her desk drawer, he's not sure what to expect. But he certainly does not expect Jake McCloud to answer. It's the late spring of 2020 and Jake's wife, Ursula DeGournsey, is the frontrunner in the upcoming Presidential election.  There must be a mistake, Link thinks. How do Mallory and Jake know each other?  Flash back to the sweet summer of 1993: Mallory has just inherited a beachfront cottage on Nantucket from her aunt, and she agrees to host her brother's bachelor party. Cooper's friend from college, Jake McCloud, attends, and Jake and Mallory form a bond that will persevere -- through marriage, children, and Ursula's stratospheric political rise -- until Mallory learns she's dying.  Based on the classic film Same Time Next Year (which Mallory and Jake watch every summer), 28 Summers explores the agony and romance of a one-weekend-per-year affair and the dramatic ways this relationship complicates and enriches their lives, and the lives of the people they love."

Mallory Blessing has just inherited a beach cottage on the gorgeous island of Nantucket.  The year is 1993 and she decides to make this cottage her home.  Her brother, Cooper, decides her cottage would be the perfect spot for his bachelor party.  So, for the weekend Cooper brings along their childhood friend, Fray, and his college buddy, Jake McCloud.  Mallory has her high school friend and Fray's ex-girlfriend, Leland, coming for the weekend, so needless to say, this should be interesting.  After a lot of drama unfolds with her brother leaving to go back home, Mallory finds herself spending the weekend alone with Jake.  They hit it off and it isn't just some sort of fleeting connection, it was a memorable time between the two of them so much so that they decide to have a "same time next year" sort of relationship despite what the future may hold.  As the years go by, so many things bring them together and so many things try to tear them apart, but their love for each other remains constant.  28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand was such a unforgettable beach read and my favorite of her novels to date.

Our girl, as Hilderbrand affectionally refers to Mallory, is such a memorable character. She's an English teacher on the island of Nantucket sort of living everyone's dream life.  Books, sunshine, good friends, a great job where people adore her.......what more could you want?  After her weekend with Jake, they vow to get together every Labor Day weekend no matter what and it becomes a time that both characters truly savor. They don't contact each other during the year unless they happen to see each other back home or at a wedding.  This lack of communication truly makes each character pine for that long weekend on Nantucket filled with take-out, old movies, star-gazing and memories that holds them over till next time.  Except as life goes on, it inevitably gets complicated.  Mallory starts seeing someone on the island; plus, there's Ursula, Jake's longtime (at one point on-again-off-again) girlfriend.  There's heartbreak, good times, deaths in the family, career moves, children, and more that crop up over the years, but it doesn't stop Mallory or Jake from their annual rendezvous.  

Jake might be one of my favorite characters of all time in 28 Summers. Even though I should really dislike him at times (Hello! This story features adultery!), I just don't have the heart to, because he is such a good guy overall.  Even though I wanted him to make different decisions at certain points of the story, I still understood where he was coming from.  His love of books, the beach, and music, were all so endearing.  His life gets complicated once things get serious with Ursula, but through it all, I was still rooting for him and at times swooning.

What I loved about 28 Summers was the fact that it wasn't just about a once-a-year romance. Sure, there's still the requisite beach read events like, lobster dinners, cocktails, sunsets, and ocean breezes, but this book was about so much more.  Mallory's relationship with her family was so well done and her experiences parenting her son truly tugged on my heartstrings.  I think any parent can relate to her sentiments about not wanting to let go once your child gets older and holding onto all the memories from childhood.  I also truly loved what Hilderbrand did before each chapter. She really set the stage by reminding us what we were "talking" about each year by giving us some keywords or headlines at the start of each chapter. This was a nice touch and really made me feel nostalgic.

28 Summers is my favorite of Hilderbrand's novels. It tugged on my heartstrings and if you love her novels or a heartfelt beach read, you won't be disappointed. If you pick up a "beach read" this summer, let it be this one.

Do you like Elin Hilderbrand's novels? Have you read this one or is it on your TBR list?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments.


  1. I am so looking forward to this one, her books just keep getting better and better!

    1. I agree! I think you'll like this one! Thanks for visiting, Michele!

  2. I haven't read one of her books in awhile, but I like that this one sounds a little different!

    1. This one was fantastic. I hope you can read it. Thanks for visiting, Angela!

  3. I picked up a copy of this one on your recommendation (Five stars! High praise!) It sounds like such a great summer read!

    1. I think you'll love this one too. I look forward to your thoughts on it, Leanna!


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