Sunday, December 16, 2012

M.L. Stedman. THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS

"Right and wrong can be like bloody snakes: so tangled up that you can't tell which is which until you've shot 'em both, and then it's too late."

Tom Sherbourne takes a job as a lighthouse keeper in Australia, attempting to live a peaceful life down after years in the war. He doesn't expect to find a lovely woman in the nearby town to settle down with. But Isabel takes him by surprise by agreeing to marry him and live with him on the isolated island of Janus Rock.

The two of them enjoy living alone on the island and look forward to starting a family. But after several miscarriages, Isabel becomes distraught and lonely. Their lives change forever one day when a baby turns up on shore in a small boat, along with her deceased father. Isabel feels like it's a miracle sent to them. Tom wants to alert the authorities  She convinces him to wait a day or two just to give her time to take care of the baby and make sure she's okay. Isabel swears that the mother must have drown since there was a women's cardigan in the boat. Tom sees how the baby has brought Isabel back to life and he's torn between doing the right thing and making his wife happy.

The longer they keep the baby, the harder the decision becomes for Tom to do what he knows is right. When they visit the nearby town on shore leave, the decision to keep the baby wreaks even more havoc on his conscious. He must make some difficult choices. And he's not the only one. Isabel has gut-wrenching decisions to make, as well as several other characters. Several families get caught up in this one decision that Tom and Isabel made.

This is an emotional, moral tale that will make you think deeply about what decisions you would make in Tom and Isabel's position. How much hurt would you case a person you love to do the right thing? Do you swallow your own guilt to please your loved ones? Or do you stay true to yourself but sacrifice their happiness?

The writing is exquisite and beautiful. I highlighted many meaningful sections. Here's an unforgettable section about forgiveness.

A character who seems always happy, even after all the bad that's happened to him, he's asked how he does it. He says he chooses to. He can either rot in the past or forgive and forget.

"Oh, but my treasure, it is so much less exhausting. You only have to forgive once. To resent, you have to do it all, every day. You have to keep remembering all the bad things."

Wow. Truer words were never spoken.