"When you build a house, one wrong measurement can send the whole thing slightly off. It will stand okay, but doorjambs and walls aren't even, so doors don't stay shut, and pictures never hang straight."
There was so much blood the day of the accident in which Abigail and Bonnie died. Enough of it to flow for years in the memories of everyone who wanted to be loved, accepted and protected in the Little family. The accident impacted tragically on everyone's life. The shocking secrets would slowly drain the life out of them until only emotional apathy and expressionless, lifeless souls would remain.
The misunderstandings and hurt flowing from the secrets would leave every member of the family stranded on their own emotional islands. Lonely, uninhabited places. Some would feel trapped, others would feel protected and safe. It all depended on how each member was able to process the truth.
Every first weekend after Labor Day, this event would be commemorated. However, this year, the twentieth anniversary, would be different. It would also be the memorial service of grandma Joan. Her last note to her daughter stated :"Grace, flowers, by the water, have fun!"
The true meaning of those words would only become clear when the family gathered at their family Inn on Little island, Maine for the weekend. Nobody was looking forward to spend time together. They all dreaded each other's company.
"Grace's children were like boxers, she thought, dancing around the ring, taking swings, dodging, tantalizing the crowd. Eventually someone would land a blow. Grace wanted peace tonight, harmony, fun!"
"Grace felt the familiar pressure building inside her little family, but, just as when she heard a storm warning, she could gather candles and kerosene, lanterns, fill jugs and bathtubs with water, secure windows and lawn furniture. She could do nothing to prevent the coming storm."
The story had me hooked from the beginning. It did not take long to witness the skill the author used to link the past to the present and build the future in the same narrative through different voices without confusing the living daylights out of the reader. All the different types of mothers in the family were introduced and highlighted. The relationship between fathers and sons would be dissected to the bare bones. The siblings, Joy, Tamar and Roger(twins), would finally acknowledge the person they see in their own mirrors.
Isn't it true that we all determine the fate of our children by what we do, not by what we say? However, It would take two unknown aunts to finally explain to Grace and her family, what Joan meant by her last note. But a thunderstorm first had to unleash itself over the family before the true meaning of family, honor, love, protection and commitment could be revealed. The events are fast-moving. Every single word in the book plays a pivotal role in leading up to the dramatic conclusion.
The book resonated so deeply in my own life, it is difficult to compact the impact into a few words on paper. At times it was difficult to continue reading. I was emotionally ripped apart.
The plot was brilliantly constructed. The message strong. Their own little islands would be forced to release them through the final events. One by one they would find their way back to the only sanctuary they ever loved. Little island will once again become home. The family finally could burst out in laughter when a bear, a table filled with food, drenched guests on overturned chairs, and a thunderstorm, splashed grand finale all over the lonely memories of the accident, as well as honor grandmother Jane's legacy of 'Grace, flowers, by the water, have fun!". The laughter brought the healing.
I absolutely and highly recommend this book to everyone. Excellent in every literary way possible! It is not a gut-destroying, dark book at all. It is also not a book to be easily forgotten.