Thursday, September 20, 2012

Shining a light on a broken heart

Please forgive me if my writing is a little stilted today. It's just that I'm trying to recover from a broken heart, you see. A little girl was lost at sea with a father who died on the boat. She was then found on a desolate lighthouse island by a couple haunted by miscarriages and stillbirths who desperately wanted a child. The girl's mother lived in grief, not knowing the fate of her husband and daughter. There was, it seems, too much love to go around.

Yes, this is all fiction, but debut novelist M.L.Stedman never for a moment let me believe this people weren't real, so give me a moment with my heartbreak. I truly lost a few hours of my life to the heartbreak of loss and disappointment of unfulfilled expectations that she deftly wove in the pages of The Light Between OceansI give great credit to Stedman for not writing caricatures, as it would have been so easy to do in this situation. She presented so many shades of gray (as in complex, nuanced situations, not as in the book), that it seems absurd to think that knowingly taking another person's child could ever have seemed black and white. 

If you're okay with a little post-reading melancholia, I cannot recommend The Light Between Oceans enough. I've wondered before at whether it was possible to like a book without liking any of the characters. Now, I'm questioning if it's possible to feel more of a loss because I like all of the characters too much. They're all flawed, but the motivation driving each of them is clear. It's just unfortunate that the path they're driving leads them into a wreck directly at the spot where a four-year-old child stands. 

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