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Chirp, Chirp: I Stand with Cricket

I jumped back into the world of Nantucket Blue (and Red) this past week and when I finished, I was overcome with the fear that Cricket has flown under the radar as one of the more memorable young adult female main characters of the past two years. Granted, when I first met Cricket, she and I were going through similar situations but I always admired her tenacity and her loyalty – finding a way to Nantucket to support her best friend even when she wasn’t wanted.

Nantucket Blue and Nantucket Red by Leila Howland

I like the way Cricket sees the world – the one where best friends mean forever (each detailed memory engrained into who you are), where people need to stop pretending and dig themselves out of their ruts, and how making effort equates to fixing things. No other discussion needed. I see the world in a similar light, and it’s difficult and mind-blowing when others can’t fathom things that are so obvious to you.

Even though I don’t think she was actively dismissing her feelings about everything in her life (depressed mom, distant dad, best friend a stranger), Cricket shows us that you can’t avoid reality forever. Somehow, just somehow, it will suddenly stand in your way and you will just have to deal with it — whether this means confrontation or acceptance. Or maybe a little bit of both.

This is why growing up is this ongoing process. You really do have to pick your battles and even by the end of Nantucket Blue, we are not so sure where Cricket stands with anything. I don’t want to spoil anything for you but the character growth in Nantucket Red is some of the best I’ve ever read. No longer is Cricket fixated on what she was in the first book. Now she is going with the flow, testing the waters, and again, I couldn’t help but feel admiration for her and how she went about her life.

No one can tell us when to stop fighting for something. Lost love or lost friendship. Sometimes you do have to put yourself first. It’s not a selfish move. It’s what you have to do to survive, to make do, and maybe, just maybe, if you are patient, life will come full circle and you will be presented with a lovely gift – a second chance.

The struggles Cricket faced in Nantucket Red hit me in my sweet spot again (seriously, is Leila Howland reading the journal I have not been writing in?) because she fears moving forward, disappointing people, making the wrong decision, and oh, the pressure – to be good at everything, to be good to everyone, and figure out how all of that is going to make for a successful and happy life. How do people juggle it all? How does anyone manage to make a decision in the first place?

So Nantucket Red finds Cricket growing into her independence but still – don’t you worry – making mistakes, and these flaws are just what make her so real to me. She fucks up more than once, she questions her decisions and what people think of her, she wants to be liked and loved, and wants to be SURE about all the things we ALL want to be sure about.

And I appreciate all of those qualities in her. I think my biggest personal LIFE takeaway in the past three years is that I’d rather own my imperfections than be someone I’m not so it’s no surprise that I have a growing affection for characters in my reading life that are so nuanced. I’m not going to be a well-mannered, logical, always-has-her-shit-together person most of the time (seriously, I discovered dry cereal stuck to my pajamas this weekend) and I don’t want the characters I spend time with to fit in these perfect boxes either.

This post is not only about sharing Cricket with you but also a reminder to me – to be fearless, to be assertive, to do what I think is right even if it all turns out okay only half the time, and be a little less afraid to let go even at the most crucial of life moments.

Nantucket Blue + Nantucket Red were written by the lovely and talented Leila Howland. (Visit her new site!)

NB on Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | My review | Gift packNR on Goodreads | Amazon | B&N

January 4, 2015 - 9:01 am

A Tribute to 2014: End of Year Survey | Estelle - […] still a huge fan of Cricket from the Nantucket Blue books. This year, Nantucket Red was released and I couldn’t stop myself from thinking of Cricket as […]

July 25, 2014 - 9:00 am

Pub Date: A Summer of Reds, Estelle - […] because I think Cricket is one of the strongest female contemporary leading ladies we have out there. In Nantucket Blue, she fought with her friendship when it totally changed, and in Nantucket Red, […]

June 1, 2014 - 5:59 am

Judith - Oh my god, I must read these books. Especially what you said in the first paragraph, how Cricket sees the world, speaks to me so much, because that’s exactly how I feel! I also may or may not have teared up because of this: “Sometimes you do have to put yourself first. It’s not a selfish move. It’s what you have to do to survive, to make do, and maybe, just maybe, if you are patient, life will come full circle and you will be presented with a lovely gift – a second chance.” (I’m writing this down in my quotes notebook as we speak, so you should feel honored, you are now among my favorite authors 😉 Love love love!

May 17, 2014 - 10:58 am

Rachel - Oh my god. I love this post so much. I really loved Cricket in Nantucket Blue, so I can’t wait to see where her life goes in Nantucket Red. Her story sounds so relevant to my life right now. I’m glad you’re able to relate to her so well because that only makes books better.

May 17, 2014 - 8:35 am

Amy @ bookgoonie - Agree. Cricket is so endearing from her pull yourself up by your bootstraps to feeling with her whole heart. Can’t wait for more people to meet & learn from Cricket.

May 15, 2014 - 4:14 pm

Ginger @ GReads! - Cricket did not leave a lasting impression on me like she did with you. However, I came to understand her and appreciate her more in Nantucket Red. I’ll be honest, she got on my nerves in NB. Sometimes a bit too much that it caused a disconnect with the story. So I am very thankful I picked up NR because it gave me a whole new perspective on her character.

I love hearing about how a story or character can affect a reader’s life personally. This is why literature is such a meaningful piece of art. Thank you for sharing this bit with us, Estelle.

May 15, 2014 - 3:31 pm

Brittany @ The Book Addict's Guide - Cheesy and/or weird to tell you that I just teared up at this post? Because I did.
CRICKET. I need to meet Leila Howland so I can hug her for writing Cricket. I’ve never been to Nantucket, I’ve never had someone like a mom who I lost, my parents didn’t get divorced, I didn’t go to an all-girls school, and didn’t date my best friends brother. BUT I identified so much of Cricket for who she was as a person and not necessarily the specifics of what she went through. I related to how she handled each situation, the pressure she felt for perfection and the drive to excel, the embarrassment and guilt she felt when she didn’t… Her story is so beautiful because it IS full of flaws. She DOES make mistakes. And I just saw so much of my own personal experiences in there that I just FELT what she felt.
I’m so glad you wrote this post because you took the feelings in my head and wrote them much lovelier than I could ever say! Fantastic post, my dear. I could honestly write you a whole blog post in reply but I’m TRYING not to 🙂

May 15, 2014 - 9:16 am

Meg - Awesome post, Estelle — and now I’m definitely eager to read this series! It’s a new one to me, but sounds like something to which I’ll relate as well. Reading your posts never fails to add to my TBR! 🙂

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