The Light Between Oceans | M.L. Stedman (Review)

Paperback, 345 pages
Published April 2nd 2013 by Scribner (first published January 1st 2012)
ISBN 1451681755 (ISBN13: 9781451681758)
Edition Language English
Summary
After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby. Tom, who keeps meticulous records and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel insists the baby is a “gift from God,” and against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them.
Review
I sort of don’t know where to start with this because I keep going back and forth on my feelings toward the book. At first I liked it, then I was like no this is terrible, then it got a bit better and back and forth I went

At the heart of it it’s an absolutely heartbreaking story where there are really no “winners”. It’s just devastating and if you’re looking for a book that will pull at your heartstrings then you’ll find it here. It’s beautifully written and the setting adds another bit of beauty to the book.

The problem that I found that I had was with the moral dilemma at the center of the story. A woman who has suffered numerous miscarriages finds a child and believes the baby is gift from God and she is meant to be the one to care for it. While that’s all well and good and that could have been the case I could never reconcile the fact that she just kept the baby. Of course, that’s the story and without her doing it there wouldn’t have been a novel. I found though that it made the character quite unlikeable. I sympathized with her and with all the losses she had been through but that didn’t make me like what she did. I appreciated her husband for wanting to do the right thing until he just gave in to her.

As the story goes on I started to feel even more and more emotionally conflicted and I genuinely think it kept me from enjoying the book. I knew whom I was supposed to “root” for but then I wasn’t and I felt bad. I was mad at the main characters and overall just a bit annoyed. I felt like things were taking too long to happen and the story kept going at a snails pace.

The book wasn’t without it’s high moments as I really did enjoy the relationship between Lucy and Tom and Isabel. There were a lot of sweet moments and I found the whole part of the story of them living on the island with the lighthouse really fascinating. Especially considering that the story is set in the 20s it gives you a total sense of how truly different things were and even more so when you’re isolated from civilization.

As I was reading I kept thinking I was surprised they hadn’t made this book into a movie just because it truly does have that Hollywood tearjerker feel to it. Then lo and behold I found out after I finished that they had. It also happens to be starring one of my favorite actresses, Alicia Vikander. I might have to see the movie just for her otherwise I would probably be a little meh about it. I can’t imagine not liking a character she portrays so I’m curious how if it will change my mind any.

It’s definitely not my favorite book I’ve ever read but it’s not even close to the worst. I didn’t hate it I just felt so conflicted while reading it that I didn’t know what to think. The writing is beautiful and there are some high moments to the book and if you truly want a book that will make you wonder what you would do in a situation like this then check it out.

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