I know. It is May 16th. And here we are. I am so late! It was bound to happen at least once. I apologize! Now my book club is slightly out of wack. Sigh. And I even had the book read. I just didn’t get to the posting of the post. Or the writing of it. You get me.
Surfacing. I have a lot of thoughts. This book made me feel so smart. SO SMART. And I really want to hear everything you think about it.
First – If this is your very first Atwood, I’m sorry. This is a weird one to start with. So I hope it is not your first. If it is, go read Cat’s Eye. Or Alias Grace. (or Handmaids Tale) You’ll be like “ohhhh, I get it now.” Some of her books are practically beach reads, and some of her books need a whole class discussion. This one falls into category 2. Class is in session.
This book started off with me not knowing what the hell is going on. We’re in a small French-Canadian town. It is very scary-movie-esque. Only one real road in. Everyone is suspicious of strangers. What murder secrets could they be possibly hiding? And then we find out that the main character (Is her name Sarah? Am I making that up? It is almost never mentioned. I tried to find it and am having a super hard time. Maybe it is never said at all… that would be interesting.) is trying to find her dad who has been missing for quote awhile.
This is immediately a psychological thriller and has the vibe of a modern day noir. Everything is suspect, everything is hinting at some ominous threat. Should they go out to the island? I was screaming in my head “no, just leave, don’t do it.” Every mundane task (cooking fish, washing dishes, killing time with books and cards) is weighted so heavily it’s as if the boogy man is about to jump out of a closet.
And as the main character’s past is revealed there is a darkness there. A complication beyond a missing father, a dead mother, an absent brother. Drownings. Slipping. Distrust. And on and on. I kept thinking about how the book is also a modern day The Awakening. I immediately wanted to write a these about those two books and the conversation they are having about women, sexual threats, how pregnancy is a sexual threat, how having a child is a sexual threat.
The main character’s grip on reality sort of devolves as the book continues. Near the end I pretty much stop being clear as to what exactly is happening anymore. What is real? What is even real? And that’s the struggle with first person narrators. When they stop being reliable, the story goes bonkers. It was really well done. It succeeded in its task. But the ending was so unsatisfying for me. I wanted the main character to shed her skin and move on into the world being free. But I feel like the island trapped her in the end. It called her back and she gave into it. But! I always want everything wrapped up in a nice bow at the end of every book I read (even if the books I write don’t end that way). It doesn’t necessarily make the stories better. It’s just my impulse.
What did everyone think of this one?