Author: Elin Hilderbrand

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

Release Date: June 2007

Blue Ribbon Rating: 5 Blue Ribbon Staff Pick

Format: PRINT

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Vicki has cancer. She also has two young sons and a husband who need her, and she’s terrified of the impending chemotherapy and surgery she will undergo. Anxious to escape the concern and pity of her friends, Vicki decides to spend the summer on Nantucket in the cottage she and her sister Brenda inherited from their Aunt. She will receive her chemotherapy at the island clinic, and Vicki’s friend Melanie and Brenda will take turns looking after the children. Her husband Ted would rather she remain in the city for treatment, but Vicki is adamant about spending the summer on the island as she did in her youth with the restorative Nantucket sand sifting between her toes.

Brenda, in turn, has her own problems. She flees to Nantucket not only to help Vicki, but to escape a career-ending scandal. She has been fired from her position as a university professor amid allegations of having an affair with a student and vandalizing a valuable painting. She has every intention of taking care of Vicki and the boys, but quickly finds that mothering a preschooler and infant isn’t easy and leaves her little time to work on the screenplay she’s writing. Brenda soon finds herself falling back into old patterns of sibling jealousies and resentments now topped with guilt due to Vicki’s condition.  


When Vicki offers to take Melanie to Nantucket with her, Melanie jumps at the chance. She knows next to nothing about caring for children, but figures she’d better learn; after seven failed in vitro attempts, Melanie is now pregnant. But the happy news comes on the heels of her husband’s announcement that he’s involved with someone else. Heartsick and battered by nausea and exhaustion, Melanie seizes the opportunity to leave before her husband discovers she’s pregnant. But Melanie, like Brenda, had no idea of the time and energy involved in caring for Vicki and her sons. The perfect summer getaway is falling apart, until the new babysitter arrives.


Preceding his senior year of college, Josh is resigned to spending the summer working with his father at the Nantucket airport. He hates the job and no longer feels he fits in with his old friends, especially his needy ex-girlfriend, Didi. When he sees a trio of women and two young boys disembark from a plane, he is struck with the thought that these are the most miserable people he’s ever seen. Josh senses that there’s a story to the women’s unhappiness, and as a writer he wonders what it is. He gets his chance to find out when he accepts a job babysitting Vicki’s two sons. Josh quickly becomes an anchor for the flailing family, and over the course of the summer brings hope to the three women who are trapped in hopeless situations.


BAREFOOT is wonderfully written, a poignant story that brings home the impact one person can have on several lives. Author Elin Hilderbrand has done a beautiful job bringing her characters and her hometown of Nantucket to life. She holds nothing back in her descriptions of Vicki’s treatments and the aftereffects, and the reality of Vicki’s illness makes for an emotionally impacted read. Likewise, Brenda, Melanie, and Josh’s stories are all written with an engaging realism that makes this a compelling page-turner. BAREFOOT is a great choice if you’re looking for a heartrending story of family, friendship, and love.




By Romance Junkies Reviewer: Leigh

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