Friday, October 14, 2016

The Light Between Oceans - M. L. Stedman

The Light Between Oceans
Title: The Light Between Oceans
Author: M. L. Stedman
Publication Date: 3/20/12
Pages: 343
Genre: Historical / Fiction
How I Found It: Kevin's aunt told me about it ages ago and now the film adaptation is in theaters.
Date Completed: 9/14/16

Summary: While manning the lighthouse on a remote Australian island, Tom and Isabel Sherbourne find a baby washed ashore. The decisions they make from that point shape their lives forever.

What I Thought: Kevin's aunt, who shares my love of literature, recommended this to me years ago. I should have picked it up much sooner than this. Knowing the film was about to come out, I knew the time had finally come.

What a moving story. I am not a mother, but I imagine that to read this and be a mother would only amplify the emotions felt. To read about mothers losing children is so powerful. I have friends and family who have lost babies and who have fought for their lives in the NICU. As I read about Isobel and Hannah each grieving their forfeiture of motherhood in different ways, my heart ached for them. While I have no experience with it personally, I believe losing a child to be the most intense grief a human can endure. It's why the date of divorce skyrockets after a child is lost - an issue with which Stedman deals in the novel. 

Heartache aside, if it is even possible to set it aside with this book, I greatly enjoyed Stedman's writing.  She did such a lovely job tapping into a variety of emotions. I felt connected to the characters in spite of or because of their faults. They felt honest and complex, never tropes. Any consistent reader of the blog knows how very much I appreciate true-to-life characters. 

While I wasn't struck with an overwhelming feeling of greatness or originality, I was impressed with the book. I enjoyed it and definitely understood early on why it has risen to such acclaim. It raises so many interesting question about love and what it really means to love someone - partner or child. 

I definitely recommend, especially for anyone looking for a book club read. I wish I had a group with whom I could discuss the emotional intricacies laid out here. I so appreciated and enjoyed the moral struggles of the characters. The situation grows rapidly complex and each character seems to be acting from positions of selfishness and altruism simultaneously. It makes for a delightful emotional depth throughout the narrative. While logic clearly dictates the "right" decision, the heart overrides, and this is the crux of the narrative.

I'm greatly looking forward to seeing this film. I think what is played out in the book will resonate even more deeply on screen. Just thinking about seeing this story acted out nearly breaks me. As you know, I'm not much of a crier, but I think seeing this may break me, particularly since two such wonderful actors are at the helm. If you haven't yet seen the movie, like me, I strongly encourage you to pick up the book. Parent or not, it will pull at your heartstrings and make you question the complex morality of each decision in play. 

Quotes I Loved:
  • "It is a luxury to do something that serves no practical purpose: the luxury of civilization."
  • "That's what bravery is. Standing by the consequences of your mistakes."
  • "Putting down the burden of the lie has meant giving up the freedom of the dream."
Rating: ★★★★☆
Will I Re-Read: Probably not, but I want to see the movie
If You Liked This, Try: March / 300 Days of Sun / Sweet Tooth 

A Reduced Review: A moving, emotionally conflicted story about love and loss. Worth the read and the tears which may ensue. 

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