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Summer of '69 by Elin Hilderbrand
Historical fiction

Summer of '69

Repeat author
Elin Hilderbrand is back at Book of the Month – other BOTMs include The Identicals and Winter in Paradise and What Happens in Paradise and Troubles in Paradise.

by Elin Hilderbrand

Quick take

Back to the good ol' Woodstock daze.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_400

    400+ pages

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_SocialIssues

    Social issues

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Inspirational


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_FamilyDrama

    Family drama

Why I love it

Siobhan Jones
BOTM Editorial Team

We pick the books a few months in advance here at BOTM, so all the reading for June occurs sometime in mid-March. Maybe that was why I warmed to Summer of ‘69 so readily—this beachy, feel-good story with ample family drama and purple haze-era vibes had me practically smelling the sunscreen. Then again, maybe I just liked this book so much because it was another satisfying winner from an author who always delivers the goods.

Elin Hilderbrand’s first historical novel plops us right into the flower power milieu of the ‘60s with a Vietnam draft notice. From then on, as we are introduced to the different members of the Levin family—the smart and stubborn Blair; the irascible Kirby; only-son Tiger; and the youngest, the quietly observant Jessie—these cultural easter eggs abound. Civil rights protests animate the news cycle while the Space Race captures the country’s imagination. Yet even as our protagonists navigate this rapidly changing world, their own trials and tribulations—finding young love, questioning authority, and even investigating long-buried family secrets—remain at the forefront of this completely charming read set over the course of one summer in Nantucket.

Anyone familiar with Hilderbrand’s books (BOTM has featured The Identicals and Winter in Paradise) is aware of her effortless ability to craft nuanced, heartfelt stories set in cozy, aspirational places, and this new one is just that: a light read set in a beach town that you’ll devour in one poolside sitting. Readers looking for a breezy escape need look no further—make Summer of ‘69 your June pick!

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Welcome to the most tumultuous summer of the twentieth century! It's 1969, and for the Levin family, the times they are a-changing. Every year the children have looked forward to spending the summer at their grandmother's historic home in downtown Nantucket: but this year Blair, the oldest sister, is marooned in Boston, pregnant with twins and unable to travel. Middle sister Kirby, a nursing student, is caught up in the thrilling vortex of civil rights protests, a passion which takes her to Martha's Vineyard with her best friend, Mary Jo Kopechne. Only son Tiger is an infantry soldier, recently deployed to Vietnam. Thirteen-year-old Jessie suddenly feels like an only child, marooned in the house with her out-of-touch grandmother who is hiding some secrets of her own. As the summer heats up, Teddy Kennedy sinks a car in Chappaquiddick, a man flies to the moon, and Jessie experiences some sinking and flying herself, as she grows into her own body and mind.

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Get an early look from the first pages of Summer of '69.

Member thoughts

All (8981)
All (8981)
Love (5406)
Like (3278)
Dislike (297)
9119 ratings
  • 59% Love
  • 36% Like
  • 3% Dislike
  • Montgomery, AL

    The book is well written & fun. I was 22 the summer of ‘69. This book is accurate with regard to historical events. However, the ‘50’s & ‘60’s are smushed together with regard to the social mores.

  • Culpeper , VA

    Different than Hildebrand’s typical books as it was set in 1969. Didn’t have the normal character and location tie ins, but that didn’t take anything away from it for me. Loved it as a stand read.

  • Nampa, ID

    I really enjoyed this read. I do wish that things had been tied up a little more at the end. I felt like I was last hanging, it was building almost the entire was through, and I felt like it didn't payoff

  • Norwich, NY

    What a great book to start the summer with! I loved this book! This was the first book I’ve read by Elin Hildebrand and I know it won’t be my last! I felt as if I was truly transported back in time.

  • Manistee, MI

    I loved this book so much! I felt like I was experiencing the events of the summer of ‘69 with these 4 strong women’s family. I became attached to the characters and completely engulfed in the book.

  • Sulphur Springs , TX

    This was a really good book. I enjoyed the characters and the story. I grew up during the “60’s” and was about the age of the youngest character. I remember so much of what went on in the book.

  • Harborcreek , PA

    I spent the summer of ‘69 working at Cape Cod with a group of college girlfriends. We took the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard & Nantucket for day trips.Reading this book brought back many happy memories.

  • Hudson, NH

    To be honest, I was actually surprised how much I enjoyed this book. I’ve had a hard time getting in to other books by Elin, but dove head first into this one! Also, love the songs as chapter titles!

  • Island Park, NY

    Incredible novel about family, siblings and love during a tipping point in America. Excellently written, it provokes all of the emotions. Happiness, sadness, love. Easily one the best books I’ve read

  • Justice, IL

    I loved this book, mostly because it was great to take a trip back to 1969! Also, I love Elin Hilderbrand’s writing- my absolute fave author ever. The research she does for this book is mindbending.

  • San Jose, CA

    Loved all the different stories—Kirby was my fave. Covered a wide range of American experiences during 1969 including those not all favorable (space race, hippies, civil rights, women's roles, etc.).

  • Canton, MI

    Great read! Brought back a lot of memories for me. I was the same age as Kirby with a lot of the same thoughts and ideals. I know a book is really good when I’m picturing where the characters are now!

  • Milwaukee, WI

    I started this book because i was enthralled by all the content coming out about the Summer of ‘69. This was a great fictional walk through that tine period touching on many major events of the time.

  • Asheville, NC

    I loved this book! The setting of Nantucket made it stand out from others placed in the 60's. I felt like I was truly living in Nantucket in the year '69 with all the characters. I didnt want it to end

  • Exeter, CA

    Elin Hilderbrand doesn’t disappoint. I really liked this one and was pleasantly surprised. I liked the different characters viewpoints and it was refreshing to have this one take place in the 60’s

  • Tucson, AZ

    I really liked this book. So many stories beautifully put together. The story follows the women of a wealthy family in the summer of 1969, they are all at different stages and places in life. Read it!!

  • richmond, VA

    Elin is back with another AMAZING book. I finished this book in two days because i simply could not put it down. Since i found her on book of the month I’ve already purchased four of her other books!

  • Land O Lakes , FL

    I was 12 the summer of 69. I was very aware of events happening at the time... Vietnam, Chappy, Woodstock. I loved the music & summer that was not so carefree for all. Walked in someone else’s shoes!

  • Staten Island, NY

    The book was well written and easy to read. characters were well defined and likable. good use of real life events woven int the story. The author captures the era quite well. it was interesting and f

  • North Fond du Lac , WI

    Elian Hilderbrand is my new favorite writer. Her writing keeps you engaged with the characters all the time as if you were actually right there with them. Her insight into family dynamics is strong!

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