The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
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.
“Elegantly rendered…heart-wrenching…beautifully drawn” (USA TODAY), The Light Between Oceans is a gorgeous debut novel, not soon to be forgotten.
The Light Between Oceans broke my heart… Seriously. I read this in just over a day and had a hard time when I had to put it down to do other (meaningless) things. Example: Get the kids on or off the bus, go to work, cook dinner, do homework, do dishes, take the dog out, talk with anyone, sleep… You know- meaningless, adulting things- I’m sure you get the picture.
The characters were well defined and relatable. The plot was exquisite: believable, gut-wrenching, and riveting. They say this is going to become a movie and I’m not sure if it will live up to my expectations because the way I have imagined every character, every place, every laugh, and every look…. I don’t think they could quite do it justice.
I loved the story that unfolded between Tom and Isabel. I love that they met while she was feeding the birds- such a simple task that she brought such happiness to. “Never be sorry for smiling!” she said, on the day they met. I fell in love with how they fell in love. Her perseverance and dedication to not only Tom, but to his happiness, his career, and their life together was just breathtaking. I was just utterly amazed at how well their story was written and how beautiful it truly was.
When trying to start a family and losing the baby, I couldn’t even begin to understand how she felt being there with only him as support. No doctors, no family, just her, her husband, and the lighthouse. When it happened again and a stillbirth after, I couldn’t help but cry as I read. Cry for her loss, her emptiness, and her hopelessness.
I can’t say that I wouldn’t have done exactly what she did when the story continued to deepen. I would have buried my babies and raised Lucy as my own without any doubt in my mind. After all, it had to be meant to be. What other reason would she be sent to us, if not for keeps? Upon returning to the mainland and realizing that things aren’t as perfect as they once thought, I still would have probably done as they did. I could see myself as Isabel- so engrossed in motherhood, so blind to anything gone awry. Just happily living in my own little world with my amazing husband, gorgeous little girl, and the steadfast lighthouse– always burning bright, always a constant, always guiding the way home.
If you are a mother or daughter, read this… As I sit here in tears even writing this review- just take time to read it. The true love a mother has for her child, whether it be one she birthed, raised, or just loved is something so deep, many cannot even fathom it until they are a parent. What would you be willing to risk- or give up- for the child you love? What if what is best for her would break your heart into a million pieces?
In 2014, my husband and I found out we were expecting our third child. I was elated- babies are always a blessing. He was more worried as the two we have keep us busy enough with everything else we have going on. I can still remember this day as it was yesterday. Going into the doctor and finding out that there wasn’t a heartbeat anymore. Then followed the agony of one ER visit after the other as she slowly left us. 13 weeks isn’t forever; she was not a grown child, but it still seems that you have lost a part of yourself. It’s been 2 years, 3 months, and 2 days. I still think about that day. I still cry over what I lost. I still celebrate her would be birthday and think of her every Christmas. I still sleep with the bear I got her on nights that I miss her and can’t fall asleep just wondering what she’d be like now. I will ever forget the one that almost was… I know I am not alone in this, and maybe this is one of the reasons I could relate to Isabel and the desperate journey that she took.
Kiss your littles… And after you read them a goodnight story, read this book…
*He followed her delicate fingers as they made silhouettes against the blue. Only gradually did he notice she was pretty. And more gradually still that she was probably beautiful.
*”I cannot imagine a more fortunate existence.” The glow in his face was not from the lamp, but from the tiny creature in the cot, whose breathing made that telltale change in rhythm as she finally surrendered to sleep.