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.
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!)