If you like your beach reads to actually take place at the beach, them reading The Identicals (2017) by Erin Hilderbrand will be just perfect. The setting of this summer read takes you to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, islands off the coast of Massachusetts.
The two islands have distinctive personalities as do identical twin sisters, Harper and Tabitha. Being identical in looks, is where the likeness ends as you will learn. The two girls have been separated for 14 years.
Harper was raised by Billy, her father, a rather laid-back kind of guy. He is very friendly and well known by in Martha’s Vineyard. Harper has somewhat similar personality. She just does not seem to have her act together. Harper is a free spirit, works, but has been fired from jobs. She can be very reckless.
Tabitha was raised by her mother, fashion designer Eleanor Roxie-Frost, on Nantucket and could not be more opposite of ex-husband Billy if she tried. She is very exacting and snobbish. Tabitha has many of the same traits as her mother.
One thing Tabitha does not possess is parenting skills. Her teenage daughter Ainsley is a headstrong party girl who does what she pleases. Definitely in need of some adult guidance.
The family dynamics at work in these two island families come together on one island, for better or for worse, to attend Billy’s memorial. But in that short time, Ainsley finally meets her Aunt Harper. That was one of the more pleasant things that happen at that event.
Shortly after the return to Nantucket, Eleanor is injured in a fall and has to be airlifted to Boston. Tabitha knows Ainsley cannot be left on her own. Ainsley begs to have her Aunt Harper come and stay with her. Tabitha is not thrilled with the idea but really does not have another option. Plus, Harper is ready to escape the rumors circulating, so it all works out for the twins.
Tabitha later ends up on Martha’s Vineyard to oversee the renovation of Billy’s shabby house. Now Harper and Tabitha have the opportunity to experience what life has been like for the other for the last 14 years. Both are surprised by what they learn.
The lives of three generations in The Identicals makes for a good time of reading. You can almost feel the sand between your toes.
Continuing on the same theme of sisters, this time during the 50s and 60s, you may find The Accidentals (2019) by Minrose Gwin to your liking, especially if you like reading one that some may call a tearjerker.
The novel begins simply. You meet Olivia McAlister and quickly learn she is one very unhappy woman. It was not always like that for Olivia. She misses her job and her friends she had made working in the main office at Higgins Boat Yard in New Orleans. Plus, her dream of finishing her college degree has also vanished.
And, she was pregnant again, no longer in New Orleans, but in Opelika, Mississippi. Olivia comes up with a plan she hopes will get her life back. Maybe, just maybe, she will find some of the joy and happiness she once knew and will no longer feel like an accidental.
Her daughter Grace is 12 years old and June is 10 when the family’s life is turned upside down. Oliva’s decision has lasting effects on not only the entire family but those whose paths happen to cross theirs. They all seem lost and confused.
Grace carries her grief on her heart. On down the line she makes poor choices. June struggles also, but in a different way which ultimately leads to a split between the girls who had always been close. Her husband Holly physically works through his issues by putting his energy into building a bomb shelter in their backyard.
This tragic tale is presented through seven different narrators. Some with more to tell than others as the story line covers about 60 years of time. Historical events are woven into the plot. You will find out life for the characters are touched and changed along the way. Ed Mae, the care worker at the orphanage is who I found most likeable and caring. Holly, got my vote as the least likeable. Grace and June were innocent bystanders and it ruined their lives.
It took me a bit to settle into the rhythm of the book through the different narrators. Plus, it is one the most sad, depressing tales I have ever read.