The late Dr. Maya Angelou said, “When I am writing, I am trying to find out who I am, who we are, what we’re capable of, how we feel, how we lose and stand up, and go on from darkness into darkness…”
That quote resonates with me and I find it’s why I read, too. It’s like getting to live infinite versions of my life. If this, then that. There are so many things that are impossible to know if you haven’t lived them yourself, but some things… there are some things that once you read another person’s account of how their story unfolded (even if fictional), it makes you pause and wonder, would I have done it any differently?
The Light Between Oceans by, M.L. Steadman, was one of these alternative life stories for me. I always thought that I’d do the right thing by a child, but after reading this I couldn’t be sure. I’d like to think I wouldn’t be so devious or deceitful, but under the right set of circumstances and heartbreak, the doubt is there.
Since this is a newer title and apparently set to be released as a movie later this year, I won’t give anymore of the story away. Don’t go hunting too far on the internet if you want the story to unfold unspoiled for you. The basic premise is that a lighthouse-keeper finds a boat that has come ashore and in it are a dead man and a very alive baby. He takes the baby inside to his wife, who having suffered multiple miscarriages, the most recent just two weeks prior, sees it as a divine solution to her unique heartache. They raise the child as theirs and the story unravels from there.
Steadman does an excellent job of not answering questions in the reader’s mind too soon, and of leaving the reader wondering how they might respond. Over the course of the story, the reader learns to view each of its characters more objectively until the end when we’re left wondering if this, then that. It is not a tidy ending, but I think this story merits the mess it ends in. No story about so many hearts splayed open can end neatly.
I am a fan of brave writing like this. I think Steadman’s ability to make this so real is a credit. It’s not easy to make fiction so “high-definition”, and yet, it’s not done without softness because woven throughout the story is the softening effect that a parent’s love has on the environment that surrounds it.
What about you? Do you enjoy reading “there but for grace” kinds of books? Have you read this title? Did you get the same vibe from it? What other books have you read that resonated with you because of their realistic take on life?
Thanks for reading!