My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This book is a 3 for me. I know this is typically getting higher ratings but for some reason I continued to feel unconnected from the characters for the majority of the story. The storyline itself was compelling- A man an woman living on an island are the caretakers of a lighthouse. She miscarries three times, and is understandably devastated. Just after she loses her third child-to-be at seven months, they discover a boat has washed ashore. The man in the boat isn’t alive but there is also a little baby, who makes it. They talk themselves into thinking that the mother must have also perished, because what mother would leave a three month old baby? They raise the child as their own, only to find out that the child’s devastated mother has been living just across on the mainland, wrecked and broken by the loss of her husband and daughter. When they are brought together, the tension is palpable.
Total potential for a novel that you can’t put down. I think because the point of view jumped around quite a bit, I never really felt as much empathy for the characters as I wanted to feel. The pressure on all sides to do what’s right for the little girl, Lucy or Grace, depending on which mother was referencing her, was enormous. I appreciated the growth of the characters, the grief and self imposed penance, but was still left wanting a deeper connection.
I was also disappointed that Izzy didn’t live long enough to meet Lucy once she was grown up. I know it probably added to the overall string of tragedy but I felt it was too ironic for her death to be within just days of Lucy finally deciding to show up. The passage of time towards the end- over 20 years left me feeling disconnected to how they were able to cope with their decisions. Did they ever think of adopting after losing Lucy? Were they able to find enough solace in one another? If so, not showing them reconnecting over time left me feeling unfulfilled. Their relationship had been so fractured, it’s hard for me to picture it just falling back together over time.
That being said, I loved the idea of the story. I loved the complexities of the tragedies that brought the families together and how they handled them. I loved the humanity and the rise to do the right thing for Lucy, letting the ramifications be what they may. I enjoyed the book, and think it was a great debut novel for M. L. Stedman.