The thunder of the waves, the screams of seagulls, and the smell of torn kelp suffuse this quiet, introspective story of a young woman's return to her childhood home on an island off the west coast of Canada. The sea in all its moods makes a turbulent background for a story of four people closely tied together by their idyllic but claustrophobic life alone on Lizzie Island, and by the tangled strands of resentment, guilt, and love that bind them. Elizabeth, nicknamed Squid, has brought a load of bitter anger with her on this first visit back to Lizzie Island since she left two years ago after her daughter, Tatiana, was born. The child is the result of an encounter with a passing kayaker, who took advantage of Squid's youthful innocence. The visit is tense also for Squid's parents, Hannah and Murray, the meticulous lighthouse keeper. All three blame themselves and each other for the death, or possible suicide, of Squid's brother, Alastair, but are unable to confront their feelings.
Iain Lawrence makes a striking shift in this book from the swashbuckling action of his seagoing trilogy, The Wreckers, The Smugglers, and The Buccaneers, to a contemplative story only gradually revealed in bits and pieces through the memories of the four principals. The harsh but seductive beauty of the island and its limitation on their lives is subtly portrayed in this book that will be enjoyed by older girls who are willing to accept its thoughtful pace. (Ages 14 and older) --Patty Campbell
From Publishers Weekly
Lawrence (the High Seas Trilogy) returns to the ocean for this exquisite novel that conjures literally the nature and mood of an island haunted by tragedy. When 17-year-old Elizabeth McCrae better known as Squid returns to her childhood home on Lizzie Island, a remote spot off the coast of British Columbia where her father serves as lightkeeper, she has a three-year-old daughter and a host of memories in tow. Chief among them are images of her brother, Alastair, who drowned when his kayak overturned. The events surrounding his death gradually and inexorably come to light, sifted through his journal entries (which Squid uncovers), scraps of remembered conversations and a compelling third-person narrative that alternates between Squid and her parents. Lawrence charts the course of the human heart, with cascading emotions of remorse and fury, love and passion, hope and nostalgia. Sea creatures take on metaphoric symbolism (a raven is "the Undertaker"; a beached whale prompts a conversation and some closure on Alistair's death). The author blends tangible descriptions ("There was no wind and no swell, and the water lapped at the shore as soft as cat tongues") and an elegiac tone (Hannah hesitates to use a pair of old U-boat binoculars: "It would be wrong to watch for her daughter through lenses that have witnessed the drowning of men") as he unspools an unforgettable tale. Rather ambiguous references to Tatiana's paternity mark this for mature readers. With adult characters every bit as memorable as the teen characters, plus its stunning ability to create a sense of the island's rhythms and habitat, Lawrence's novel not only lives up to the high standards of his previous works, but may well attract a wide adult readership. Ages 14-up.
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