Author: Sara Taylor
Publication Date: May 26, 2015
Source: borrowed from the good ol' public library
Summary from Goodreads:
Welcome to The Shore: a collection of small islands sticking out from the coast of Virginia into the Atlantic Ocean. Where clumps of evergreens meet wild ponies, oyster-shell roads, tumble-down houses, unwanted pregnancies, murder, storm-making and dark magic in the marshes. . .
Situated off the coast of Virginia's Chesapeake Bay, the group of islands known as the Shore has been home to generations of fierce and resilient women. Sanctuary to some but nightmare to others, it's a place they've inhabited, fled, and returned to for hundreds of years. From a half-Shawnee Indian's bold choice to flee an abusive home only to find herself with a man who will one day try to kill her to a brave young girl's determination to protect her younger sister as methamphetamine ravages their family, to a lesson in summoning storm clouds to help end a drought, these women struggle against domestic violence, savage wilderness, and the corrosive effects of poverty and addiction to secure a sense of well-being for themselves and for those they love.
Together their stories form a deeply affecting legacy of two barrier island families, illuminating 150 years of their many freedoms and constraints, heartbreaks, and pleasures.
I fell victim to total book blogger peer pressure here, people! Err-body was reading The Shore a few weeks ago. It was all over my blog reader and the Instagram and the Twitters. So when I saw a copy just hanging out on my library's New Releases shelf, I had to go for it. Unlike that time when your mom asked if you would jump off a bridge if all your friends did it to, this was actually a GREAT time to do what all my friends were doing. Because this is a fantastic novel.
The Shore is wonderfully, unapologetically, vigorously unique. I saw it categorized as a "short story" collection by some Goodreads reviewers, but I don't think that's entirely accurate. While most of the chapters are narrated by different characters, and in many cases the time period is completely different between them, the overlapping details between all of these stories are essential to your overall impression of the book. Do yourself a favor and DO NOT read this on an e-reader, because I had to flip back to the (sizable) family tree at the front of the book every 5 pages or so. It would have driven me crazy to have to do that on a Kindle.
Even though many of the narrators in this novel are (genetically) related, they've often never met each other. In that way, each chapter does have an exclusivity to it that leaves readers with that "short story" feel. However, Taylor has woven all of their narratives together in a way that leaves you with a strong ribbon of similar themes: melancholy. Persistence. Isolation. Brutality. And many, many powerful female characters. This is what gives the book a tight cohesiveness that I find astounding for a piece of literature with so many different stories to tell.
On top of that, a few of the chapters threw in some genre twists that I was not expecting at all, particularly in magical realism and dystopia. But it worked. They caught me off guard at first, but in the end, I was appreciative of how they changed the direction of the novel and managed to carry the previously-established themes even deeper into the story.
I'm not sure if this review gives you anything concrete about The Shore to hold on to, but that is the nature of this book. Don't let the cover and title fool you--this is much more than a walk on the beach. If you're ready for something completely different, immersive, and impressively well-crafted, The Shore is an excellent pick!
What was the last book you read because "all the cool kids were doing it"?? :)