“This is a story about right and wrong
and how sometimes they look the same…”
Picture, for a moment, you and your significant other living in the most deserted, isolated place on earth. You are there by choice, but still, you and your spouse basically make up the sum population of the entire area and people have to travel 4 – 6 hours (one way) to get to you.
You still with me? Okay, there’s more…
You and your partner have been trying for a family and sadly you have been quite unsuccessful. In fact, your wife just experienced her third miscarriage yesterday. You were working and didn’t hear her cries of pain when she was going through it. To say you are both feeling hopeless, helpless and a smidgen angry with Life is a bit of an understatement.
Now imagine that while burying your third “child” you hear the cries of a baby. No, not the baby you are burying but another baby somewhere on your deserted island. On following the cries you and your wife discover a dinghy containing a dead man and a crying baby, swaddled in a lady’s cardigan. They are the only two occupants of the dinghy and you are the only two witnesses to these new arrivals.
You can either keep the child and raise her as your own, or you can contact the appropriate authorities and notify them of your discovery. However, upon seeing your wife’s growing attachment to the abandoned child and still reeling from the loss you’ve both recently experienced, you go against what you know is right, morally and ethically correct, and decide to keep the child.
And that, people, is when things get heartrendingly interesting…and helluva complicated.
The premise outlined above is the opening intro into author M.L. Stedman’s novel, “The Light Between Oceans”. This book is set on the remote (and real) tiny island of Janus Rock, that houses a lighthouse, off the coast of Western Australia (Point Partaguese, to be exact) on the heels of World War I. Most of the characters we meet are trying to find stability and security in a world that no longer makes any sense to them.
Stedman does an amazing job of weaving intricate details regarding the character’s backgrounds and setting without losing the fast-paced tempo of the story. This is a feat that, honestly, should not go without a standing ovation of some sort. An unseasoned author would have surely made this story super long, tedious and trite. Thankfully, in the capable hands of Stedman every character detail or plot line never feels excessive or out of place.
A lot of themes are tackled in the story-line, namely the devastating effects of war on an individual/community, the quest for one’s personal identity, regret, loss, grief and depression. However, it is the overarching symbolism of the steady and constant lighthouse that knits all these themes together and grounds the book’s plot.
This book will have you reaching for the Kleenex (you’ve been warned), as well as questioning who or what are the “lighthouses” in your life, that operate as your moral and ethical compass when your values are challenged.
Who should read it?
Those among you who like a little suspense, aren’t afraid to get into their “feels” and love plot lines that dwell in the murky grey ethical areas.
My Rating: 3.5 chickens out of 5 (yes, chickens)
Holla in the comments if you’ve read this book or would consider reading it.