The Summer of Lost Letters / Hannah Reynolds / Book Review


When Abby Schoenberg opens a box of her late O'ma's belongings, she doesn't expect to find a collection of decades-old love letters. These letters chronical a teenage romance between her grandmother and a mysterious "Edward" on the picturesque island of Nantucket.

Abby doesn't know much about her O'ma, who was tight-lipped even before she went into a nursing home. All she knows is that O'ma came to the United States as a little girl fleeing the Holocaust. She was the only survivor in her family.

Recently dumped by her boyfriend and facing a summer without her friends in town, Abby decides this is her chance to dig into some family history and figure out who she is and where she came from. She sets off for a summer on Nantucket, letters in hand, to put together her grandmother's story in any way that she can.



Literary Allusions Reynolds's work is full to the brim with allusions to familiar literature. From the gothic atmosphere of Rebecca to the magical journeys of Alice, Dorothy, and Lucy, anyone who grew up on books will appreciate the sprinkling of references Abby weaves into her narrative.

Picturesque Nantucket The setting for this book couldn't be better: an island of seaside charm, kitschy giftshops, ice cream parlors, and weather-worn historic buildings. Ferries and sea breezes and lazy afternoons: it is atmospheric and nostalgic, just the sort of escape one can appreciate--and hope to get back to soon, outside of the pages of a book, anyway.

Books and Bookstores Not only are the pages of this book full of literary allusions, they are also full of books themselves. Abby spends her summer not just wandering the beautiful Nantucket seaside but working at a local bookstore. She bonds with her love interest over books, name drops both literary and genre works, and fills her day with literary love. Book lovers and booksellers will enjoy the familiar comfort of a bookstore, even from the page.


Abby herself is only seventeen. She decides early on to investigate her family history by contacting a random man named Edward and traveling, solo, to Nantucket with the hopes of meeting him. For some reason, her mom doesn't have any problem with this--and her dad doesn't say much either. Neither parental figure gets involved in her quest or seems more than vaguely interested in what she is doing. It just felt weird to have this seventeen-year-old girl doing all of this investigation without any parental concern . Tweaking this point for some realism wouldn't have been that difficult, so I question why the parents were just left completely out of the loop with no pushback, no interference--and no real interest at all. Too Little Supervision

Abby is obsessed enough with the love letters she finds that they spur her entire summer trajectory, but we the readers hardly get a look at them. A few chapters start with an epigraph from the letters, but I do mean just a few. Some later chapters include excerpts from the letters Abby's grandmother wrote (notably not the letters that Abby falls in love with), but this is the extent to which the letters themselves come into play. With a title all about the letters, I just wish there were more included in the book itself. I wish I had been given the opportunity to fall in love with the love letters, too. Not Enough Letters

Though beach romances often meander a bit, this book does not meander in a lackadaisical, beachy type of way. I mean that the thread of the plot--the purpose of Abby's quest--kept getting swept to the side without anything else occupying the space. Ideas, people, and activities come and go without purpose--not even purpose in the purposelessness. It just felt a little too unfocused, no real momentum to carry the plot through to the end. Meandering Plotline



Anyone who was wrapped up in the atmosphere of Erica Bauermeister's The Scent Keeper will fall into these seaside pages with ease. Those of who enjoyed the quest for family with a dash of summertime romance found in Emma Lord's You Have a Match should try this new beachy read.


Publisher: Razorbill
Date: June 15, 2021
Series: Golden Doors
Add to Goodreads
Buy it HERE

Note: I was provided with an ARC by the publisher through Edelweiss+ in exchange for an honest review. All opinions here are my own.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Sky's End / Marc J. Gregson / Book Review

Most Ardently: A Pride & Prejudice Remix / Gabe Cole Novoa / Book Review

Best and Worst of 2023