It's the tumultuous summer of '69, and Jessie is stuck at her grandmother's beach house in Nantucket, without her older siblings. As the summer heats up, Ted Kennedy sinks a car in Chappaquiddick, man flies to the moon, and Jessie and her family experience their own dramatic upheavals along with the rest of the country.
...[Hilderbrand] presents another breezy yet gritty novel ... Hilderbrand does include plenty of adversity in her stories, but it's of the type expressly designed to be overcome ... Hilderbrand designs careful family dramas that don't overly rock the reader's boat ... Oftentimes we don't hunger for a seven-course meal — oftentimes, a light repast will do. Simple, sassy, and continuously engaging, Summer of '69 fits neatly into the nostalgic reader's beach bag, right alongside the Chablis and the Coppertone.
It turns out that despite her lack of lived experience in the tensions and tumult of ‘69, Hilderbrand is possessed of remarkable perspective on the time, the result of a good deal of research about that summer and a good ear in her various interviews about that summer. For the most part she gets the period right ... Overall this novel is an entertaining bagatelle, told by a proficient storyteller in an engaging way. There won’t be a single transistor radio this summer on Singing Beach in Manchester-by-the-Sea, nor on Madaket Beach in Nantucket. But there almost certainly will be multiple copies of Summer of ‘69. It’s this year’s beach-reading cure for...the summertime blues.
Hilderbrand...still manages to suffuse the novel with her trademark aspirational, escapist trappings (albeit with a little drinking while pregnant), and the chapter titles provide nostalgic readers with a soundtrack to this pleasing, beach-ready read. Hilderbrand’s first foray into historical fiction will rouse curiosity in new readers as well as devotees of her annual summer smashes.