A summer of history and romance

Family heritage is something that many people hold dear to their hearts; however, when the past of your family has been undiscovered for so long, it is up to the curious mind to unravel the secrets.

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The perfect novel to read for a day at the beach!

Makayla Bech, Staff Writer

The past is something that we hold near us to reminisce and to understand what makes us who we are. But what do you do when your family heritage only traces back to your grandparents? What do you do when your grandmother will not discuss anything about her past? These were the thoughts of Abigail Shoenberg in The Summer of Lost Letters by Hannah Reynolds. This historical romance follows Abigail through her summer going into her senior year of high school. Her summer was off to an ordinary start when a mysterious box filled with her grandmother’s things that was left at the nursing home when she passed away. Unable to contain the urge to shift through the box of belongings, Abigail scrambles through the perplexing box of secrets and discovers no other than love letters from the 1950s written by Abigail’s grandmother’s secret lover.

Arrangements were made for Abigail to trace the history behind the letters, and she wound up traveling to a Massachusetts island named Nantucket. Upon arrival, Abigail was overcome with picturesque views of gardened flowers, white picket fences, and the salty air from the surrounding water wafted through her scents and defined the feeling of the summer that lay ahead. “A bright, cerulean world surrounded [her], all endless ocean and cloudless sky.” And so, the search for this mysterious lover began and like any good romance, Abigail comes face to face with her grandmother’s long-lost lover, and even more important to the story, the grandson. While shifting through a study immense in family heirlooms and photo albums containing photographs of her grandmother, Abigail turns red as anxiety circles through every inch of her body because Noah Barbanel had just caught her in his grandfather’s study when she was supposed to be handing out drinks to the party guests. From there, romance begins and the historical discoveries of a past full of violence, travel, and love affairs encapsulate.

New York Times bestselling author Hannah Reynolds pieced together a novel that undeniably serves to make readers feel compelled to grasp a true understanding of their family past, and a sense of adventure that allows anyone to feel young and unfettered. Reading the ins and outs of Abigail and Noah’s journey as they unravel the past behind their grandparents’ past and watch them obtain a love for each other that is undeniable, the reader can feel nothing but fulfilled and curious. Reynolds writing style is addicting. She knows how to form sentences that feel professional and scholarly while also free in that romance and love are the highlight of life and if you can have that, then nothing else really matters.

This novel discusses Jewish history dating back to before the Holocaust and the difficulties of the lingering antisemitism in society that the Jewish population continues to face today. As someone who is not of the Jewish faith, it was intriguing to discover certain Jewish traditions that I was unaware of. It was also saddening to find the continued discrimination that people are continuing to face today based on the faith that they follow. For Abigail describes how her family practices their faith in the privacy of their home and while it is not something that they are ashamed of, it is not something that they openly discuss. I love how Reynolds was able to take a plot and add in details that bring awareness to societal issues that are not popularly discussed. Overall, this book is a must to read if you are a fan of both history and literature. It is a great read for the summer season and a novel full of teenage innocence and adventure.