The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman (5 out of 5)
Wow. What a book. I wish I had read it last year when buzz was high on it, but it was buried under mounds of books in my room. Thankfully, order and a new bookshelf bought for me and built by my friend D has gotten that disorganized mess under control. I found this, and after the awesome that was The Rosie Project, I had to wind it down and read something that would rip my heart out. Mission accomplished!
Tom Sherbourne is a lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, a far out, lonely islet in Australia. He meets, falls for, and marries Isabel, a local girl who just wants to get married and have kids with her wonderful husband on the quiet island. Things, as they often do, don’t end quite so ideally. Isabel has two miscarriages and one stillborn child, and then gets hit with the news that she’s going through the change of life, rendering their dreams for children as one that will go unfulfilled. Tom tries his hardest to reach Isabel after these shattering occurrences, but she shuts him out and quietly attempts to find some beacon to hold onto. One day, a boat floats onto the island, and on that boat is a dead man and a healthy, crying baby girl. Isabel sees this as some sort of destiny, that God is sending them a baby to replace the ones they’ve lost, and they should keep the child, not pursue what happened to the father or how they ended up in the boat. Tom is the man who does the right thing in every situation and chooses to try to do the right thing here, but ends up giving Isabel what she wants. He buries the dead man’s body and they name the little girl Lucy. They find out that there is a woman named Hannah whose husband and baby daughter are missing, and that there’s a reward. They go into town, and meet Hannah- who is indeed the mother of the child. Mother and child meet and there is a moment of connection, before Isabel gets them out of there. Tom’s guilt begins to take ahold of him, and he fights between that and his love of Isabel and honoring her request. Hannah receives a mysterious letter telling her that her daughter is alive, and things start to spin off at an alarming rate, escalating in the stunning conclusion. What happens?
By far, one of the most wrenching books I’ve read this year. Stedman brings you into the hearts of two people who are deeply in love with one another, yet their love for each other and their deceit involved in raising this little girl, may end up destroying both of them, the little girl, the mother, as well as their marriage and the town they live in as well. Nothing is as it seems in this novel, yet at the heart of the whole thing you have the importance of love. The back story is completely covered and you feel the pain and tumult within and around all the characters. I loved this book. It’s perfect for book clubs. The writing is similar to Jodi Picoult, as far as the grittiness and reality of the book, but I think this book was far better written than the last 4 months. I would highly recommend this to anyone. It is a fabulous book.