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Monday, November 5, 2012

I rarely ever read two books at the same time, especially if they are fiction - I like to keep on one story.  But, I've been listening to so many books lately, that there has started to be some overlap.  I started reading The Light Between Oceans and listening to Crooked Letter Crooked Letter at almost the same time and finished both on the same day.  Most days I would do some reading and listening to both.  The stories were very different so there weren't ever any problems with keeping them straight, I might end up doing this more often.  The one thing they both had in common that I loved, was that woven into each story was a lot of information about the locations - Australia and rural Mississippi, and time periods - post World War and civil rights integration.  Both books made me feel much more knowledgeable about the locations and subjects, one of the best benefits to reading.

From Amazon:
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 and shore leaves are granted every other year at best, 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, whose records as a lighthouse keeper are meticulous and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel has taken the tiny baby to her breast. 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.
M. L. Stedman’s mesmerizing, beautifully written novel seduces us into accommodating Isabel’s decision to keep this “gift from God.” And we are swept into a story about extraordinarily compelling characters seeking to find their North Star in a world where there is no right answer, where justice for one person is another’s tragic loss.

I can't remember where I discovered this book, probably my good friends at Amazon recommended it to me based on my past purchases, but the premise seemed very intriguing.  I feel so blessed to have Luke and can empathize with Isabelle - especially since she has been told there is no hope of her ever having a baby.  From the outside her choice to take the baby as her own seems horrifying, but the author did a good job of painting a picture to understand why both she and Tom would make the choices that they did.  It all seemed fairly harmless until the other side of the story was presented and then I almost felt guilty for having agreed with them raising Baby LuLu as their own.  
One of the things that bugs me most in books is when an author creates a complicated story with lots of depth but then doesn't seem to know how to end it.  That is what happened in this book.  After a lot of build up, it just kind of ended with a quick summary and epilogue.  I was pretty disappointed in the ending, I would still recommend it, but wished the author would have figured out a better way to end.

From Amazon:
In the 1970s, Larry Ott and Silas "32" Jones were boyhood pals in a small town in rural Mississippi. Their worlds were as different as night and day: Larry was the child of lower-middle-class white parents, and Silas, the son of a poor, black single mother. But then Larry took a girl to a drive-in movie and she was never seen or heard from again. He never confessed . . . and was never charged.
More than twenty years have passed. Larry lives a solitary, shunned existence, never able to rise above the whispers of suspicion. Silas has become the town constable. And now another girl has disappeared, forcing two men who once called each other "friend" to confront a past they've buried for decades.

I'll just clear up the title to you because it seemed so strange to me - this is how kids apparently learn to spell Mississippi - m, i, crooked letter crooked letter, i, crooked letter crooked letter, i, p,p, i.  Now hat we have that out of the way, on to the story.  This book was actually the opposite of Light Between Oceans in that I thought it started off very slow and not super interesting, but I loved the way the story eventually came together and ended.  It was a little tough to get into and it took me a little while to care about the characters but gradually it all started to make more sense.  It was hard to read some of the events of post segregation Mississippi but I thought the author used the characters well to help personalize the issues.  It wasn't great, but pretty good, especially as something to listen to besides music.

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