The Life of Bon: May Book Club: The Light Between Oceans

Thursday, May 29, 2014

May Book Club: The Light Between Oceans

I'm late! I'm late! I'm late for book club! (All book club details can be found here.)  I was supposed to have this post up last night.  Obviously I didn't.  Deciding to do an online book club the Thursday before graduation was probably the worst idea I ever had.  It's an absolute zoo at the high school, and it's all I can do to keep my head about me, let alone finish and reflect on a book.  But I did it!  I finished the book this morning and here I am, ready to review it!


 (If you link up I'd love you to slap this image on your post somewhere.  Please and thank you!)

2014 Book Club Schedule:

January: The Husband's Secret by Liane Mortiary (January 30)  Discussion here.
February:  I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai (February 27) Discussion here.
March: Divergent by Veronica Roth (March 27) Discussion here.
April:  Night Circus by Eric Morgenstern (April 24) Discussion here.
May:  The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman (May 29)
June:  Matilda by Roald Dahl (June 26)
July:  In Cold Blood  by Truman Capote (July 24)
August:  Brain on Fire:  My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan (August 28)
September:  Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell (September 25)
October:  Z by Therese Ann Fowler (October 23)
November:  Wonder by R.J. Palacio (November 20)
December: My Story by Elizabeth Smart (December 30)




BOOK CLUB QUESTIONS
You are welcome to answer any or all of these questions.  (Or none of them.  Do whatever you want, people.  I'm not your English teacher!)  I've decided to limit questions for the book to five questions each month- that way it can get our brains moving without being too overwhelming or burdensome.  I answer some of the questions below, not all of them, and I jump around and do whatever I please.  Feel free to follow suit.

+ Who would you consider the protagonist of the story- Isabel or Tom?  Why?  Who was your favorite character?

+ How did you feel about the end of the book?
+ Did you like the writing style?  Why or why not?
+ What are the strengths and weaknesses of Isabel's and Tom's relationship?

+ What would you have done if you were Tom in that situation?  Do you agree with the way he handled the situation?  How did you feel about him trying to take all the blame to save Isabel?

BON'S REVIEW...
Finally!  A book club book that I actually really liked!  When I set the book down this morning, I felt the feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment that you get after finishing a truly great book.  You know, like I had been improved somehow for the reading of the book.  I was pretty worried after I didn't particularly like our choices for January- April, but you know what they say, fifth time's the charm!

MAIN CHARACTERS
I loved everything about Tom's character.  I think in some ways he reminds me of Greg, which was why I attached so much to him.  I like that he was a bit more reserved, that he was morally straight to a tee, but that he loved everything about Isabel that was so different from him.  I loved that he loved her fearlessness and sense of adventure even if he didn't have it himself.

When Isabel begged him to keep the baby, I didn't agree with Tom's decision, but I could understand why he was doing that.  I loved how Stedman showed that conflict that he underwent... that he wanted to do the "right thing", but that the "right thing" got so blurry when he had a grieving wife who had so much love to give and when all he wanted to do was make her happy.  I loved the way Stedman showed that conflict.  I also really liked that there were certain elements in Tom's past that were kept a secret to us.  Stedman alluded to the war often and to his family and how those two things had affected him, but I never felt like I had a really good grasp of everything Tom had been through.  Even by the end of the book, I didn't full understand him as a character, and I liked that.

Isabel was a bit harder for me to love because she was so flawed.  To be honest, she probably reminded me a little too much of myself to be entirely comfortable with her.  I felt that she was incredibly selfish in asking Tom to keep the baby- mostly because she knew that Tom wouldn't be able to say no and so in that way I felt like she was purposefully manipulative.  After the baby was discovered, Isabel drove me CRAZY the way it took her so long to come clean that it had been her idea to keep the baby and not Tom's.  I couldn't believe how selfish she was being in allowing Tom to take the punishment and even feeling rationalized a little bit for being angry with Tom.  Tom did the right thing and it was frustrating to me that she was blaming him for that.  I liked, though, that I felt all these things toward Isabel.  To me, that was Stedman's purpose- to be outraged and bothered by Isabel but for part of us to still understand at least a sliver of the reason why she did what she did.

THE ROMANCE  My favorite part of the book was the relationship between Isabel and Tom.  I especially liked that their relationship eventually trumped Isabel's relationship to Lucy.  I know how much Isabel wanted a child, but I've always felt like the most most important relationship in your life should always be to your spouse, and not to your children.  When Isabel was about to let Tom rot in jail for life in exchange for Lucy back, it broke my heart and I was going to throw the book at the wall if that was how the book ended.  The letter that Tom sent Isabel while he was jail was beautiful and so romantic.  My favorite lines-

"We each get a little turn at life, and if this ends up being how my turn went, it will still have been worth it.  My time should have been up years ago.  To have met you, when I thought life was over, and been loved by you- if I lived another hundred years I couldn't ask for better than that.  I've loved you the best I know how, which isn't saying much..."

"Perhaps when it comes to it, no one is just the worst thing they ever did.  All I can do is to ask God, and to ask you, to forgive me for the harm I've cause.  And to thank you for every day we spent together."

Yep.  Definitely cried when I read that part.

I think what I liked about this book so much is that it's somewhat in disguise.  You think the whole book is about a baby.  But it's really not.  The baby is such a small part of the story.  It's a love story.  It's about a man and a woman and how they get through the biggest challenge life can through at them.  I thought the book was going to be about the love of a mom and a baby, but instead it's the subtle story of the love between a husband and wife and I love it for that.

WRITING STYLE 
The writing style grew on me.  At first, I didn't love it and the descriptions of the lighthouse, the nature, etc, bored me.  The first 40 pages or so were very slow and I had a hard time powering through them.  (I always think it's a bad sign when I have to "power through" something that is supposed to be enjoyable to me.)  As soon as Tom and Isabel met, though, the book picked up significantly for me and the writing style actually grew on me.  Toward the end there were sentences I read and reread because of their beauty, the way they rolled off the page:

They sat silently, listening to the wind which came roaring up from the ocean, occasionally banishing a cloud long enough to let a shaft of sunlight slice through the glass and on to the carpet.

The best part of twenty tears flowed past like a quiet country river, deepening its path with time.

Years bleach away the sense of things until all that's left is a bone- white past, stripped of feeling and significance.

THE ENDING 
To me, the ending was very satisfactory.  I feel like I have been reading a lot of books and watching a lot of movies and TVs with very very flawed protagonists and unhappy endings.  I couldn't have handled this book if it ended with Isabel and Tom apart or Hannah without her baby that should have been hers.  I needed things to be "right" with this book, and they were.  I also appreciated that Stedman didn't have Isabel miraculously be able to have a child after they gave up Lucy.  I always feel like that's kind of a cop out when authors do that so I appreciate that Tom and Isabel had to live with the pain of being childless, but that they still had each other.

The scene where Tom is saying goodbye to Isabel when she is dying was probably the sweetest and saddest to me.  I don't know why exactly, but the idea of having that kind of love and relationship for years and years and to watch it slip away is sadder than anything else for me.  His "other half of the sky."

And lastly, I LOVED the ending paragraphs of the book.  Such a beautiful way to end it:

There are still more days to travel in this life.  And he knows that the man who makes the journey has been shaped by every day and every person along the way.  Scars are just another kind of memory.  Isabel is part of him, wherever she is, just like the war and the light and the ocean.  Soon enough the days will close over their lives, the grass will grow over their graves, until their story is just an unvisited headstone.

He watches the ocean surrender to night, knowing that the light will reappear.

Now you add your two cents!  Comment below or link up your post!  I can't wait to hear your thoughts and I will be replying to all comments on this post.  Next month we are reading Matilda by Roald Dahl.  Join in!!!


10 comments:

  1. I also LOVED this book and cried hysterically at the end - like crazy person sobbing. I agree with all your observations except that I really did not want Lucy to end up with Hannah. While I felt horrible for Hannah and understood her wanting to be reunited with her daughter, I felt like she was selfish and was putting her interest above the interest of her child and this sort of made me hate her. It was such a horrible situation and whatTom and Isabel did wasn't "right" but it's not the same as if they kidnapped the baby. My gut felt like the right outcome would have been for them to end up with Lucy. I think this made the ending that much sadder for me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies


    1. Hello to every one out here, am here to share the unexpected miracle that happened to me three days ago, My name is Jeffrey Dowling,i live in TEXAS,USA,and I`m happily married to a lovely and caring wife,with two kids A very big problem occurred in my family seven months ago,between me and my wife so terrible that she took the case to court for a divorce she said that she never wanted to stay with me again,and that she did not love me anymore So she packed out of my house and made me and my children passed through severe pain. I tried all my possible means to get her back,after much begging,but all to no avail and she confirmed it that she has made her decision,and she never wanted to see me again. So on one evening,as i was coming back from work,i met an old friend of mine who asked of my wife So i explained every thing to her,so she told me that the only way i can get my wife back,is to visit a spell caster,because it has really worked for her too So i never believed in spell,but i had no other choice,than to follow her advice. Then she gave me the email address of the spell caster whom she visited.(bravespellcaster@gmail.com}, So the next morning,i sent a mail to the address she gave to me,and the spell caster assured me that i will get my wife back the next day what an amazing statement!! I never believed,so he spoke with me,and told me everything that i need to do. Then the next morning, So surprisingly, my wife who did not call me for the past seven {7}months,gave me a call to inform me that she was coming back So Amazing!! So that was how she came back that same day,with lots of love and joy,and she apologized for her mistake,and for the pain she caused me and my children. Then from that day,our relationship was now stronger than how it were before,by the help of a spell caster . So, i will advice you out there to kindly visit the same website http://bravespellcaster.yolasite.com ,i f you are in any condition like this,or you have any problem related to "bringing your ex back. So thanks to Dr Brave for bringing back my wife,and brought great joy to my family once again.(bravespellcaster@gmail.com}, Thanks..

      Delete
  2. I think it's interesting that you were disgusted with Isabel when Tom took the blame but you were still able to forgive her and enjoy the romance. Despite having that sliver of understanding, I felt she went from being a sympathetic character to a pathetic excuse for a wife as the book continued!
    I definitely agree that Hannah needed to have Lucy-Grace, and thank goodness the child had someone who could find a way to make that transition work for her a little better. The idea that Hannah loved her child so much she was willing to give her up to Isabel drew me in and I would have hated if she lost the chance to have her daughter over a lie.

    ReplyDelete
  3. honestly, so many emotions during this book! i really enjoyed it, but i really didnt enjoy it as well. i feel like i need a light, fluffy read now. i think it scared me because i could relate to everyone, i wanted them all to be right, and all be happy, which was impossible. my favourite part of the book was tom + izzy's relationship, regardless of their flaws. i think the lighthouse, nature etc bored me a little, unless it was specifically something Australian and then I lapped it up. anywho, i agree the writing took awhile for me to get into, i stopped reading it for a bit and read another book, but eventually went back to this one. i cried a lot, but i was satisfied with the ending. it was a good book, not sure if i will ever re-read though.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I read this book a while ago, so the details are fuzzy. I only gave it 3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads and I don’t really remember why... I think the story wasn’t the most interesting to me or maybe I was unhappy with the ending? Haha whoops I guess I’ll try not to go ahead of the book club from now on.

    I do remember that even though Isabel (in my opinion) is the protagonist of the story, I really didn’t identify with or care for her at all. I preferred Tom much more. I felt like he was a truly sweet guy who was genuinely and selflessly trying to do the right thing.

    Even though it took a while to get used to, I really loved the writing. In fact, I loved it so much that I would jot down passages I found interesting or pretty in my journal.

    This was my very favorite passage: (page 323)

    “But how? How can you just get over these things, darling?” she asked him. “You’ve had so much strife but you’re always happy. How do you do it?”
    “I choose to.” He said. I can leave myself to rot in the past, spend my time hating people for what happened, like my father did, or I can forgive and forget.”
    “But it’s not that easy.”
    He smiled that Frank smile. “Oh, but my treasure, it is so much less exhausting. You only have to forgive once. To resent, you have to do it all day, every day. You have to keep remembering all the bad things.”
    He laughed. “I would have to make a list, a very, very long list and make sure I hated the people on it the right amount. That I did a very proper job of hating, too: very Teutonic! No” – his voice became sober- “we always have a choice. All of us.”

    ReplyDelete
  5. I really enjoyed this book. I bawled at the end. It reminds you that life can be complicated and even if you live on an island population of 2 things can still come into your life and change it forever. The thing that bothered me about what Tom did was the sneakiness of it. I know that the decision to keep Lucy wore on his mind every day, but I felt like if he had decided to come clean he should have gone about it differently. Did he really think no one would find out? Maybe it was more like a cry for help? There was no easy way out, but I felt like there had to be a better way. I also didn't want Lucy to end up with Hannah at first, I think because I identified so much with Isabel. But then I put myself in Hannah's place. That's still her CHILD and even though they had been separated for so long, eventually Lucy/Grace would adjust and mostly forget the first few years. Who really remembers anything from their childhood before age 5 anyway? All in all I would definitely recommend this book. The writing style (although it was a slow start for me too) was truly beautiful. So descriptive and visual which is exactly what I needed! I think it would make a great movie. And was I the only one who imagined their dialogue with an Australian accent?? Loved it!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I was angry when Lucy went back to her biological mom. I guess I was imagining me having to give my daughter up to someone, even though I raised her all these years (though she's my biological daughter!) I understand why it happened, and why it HAD to happen, but it still made me angry.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Also, I LOVED the part where Lucy called her son Bunny Rabbit. It was like an unspoken memory that she probably didn't even know had come from Tom. And I loved that Tom didn't even say anything. Nothing needed to be said. He knew that he was in her heart and always would be.

    ReplyDelete


  8. Hello to every one out here, am here to share the unexpected miracle that happened to me three days ago, My name is Jeffrey Dowling,i live in TEXAS,USA,and I`m happily married to a lovely and caring wife,with two kids A very big problem occurred in my family seven months ago,between me and my wife so terrible that she took the case to court for a divorce she said that she never wanted to stay with me again,and that she did not love me anymore So she packed out of my house and made me and my children passed through severe pain. I tried all my possible means to get her back,after much begging,but all to no avail and she confirmed it that she has made her decision,and she never wanted to see me again. So on one evening,as i was coming back from work,i met an old friend of mine who asked of my wife So i explained every thing to her,so she told me that the only way i can get my wife back,is to visit a spell caster,because it has really worked for her too So i never believed in spell,but i had no other choice,than to follow her advice. Then she gave me the email address of the spell caster whom she visited.(bravespellcaster@gmail.com}, So the next morning,i sent a mail to the address she gave to me,and the spell caster assured me that i will get my wife back the next day what an amazing statement!! I never believed,so he spoke with me,and told me everything that i need to do. Then the next morning, So surprisingly, my wife who did not call me for the past seven {7}months,gave me a call to inform me that she was coming back So Amazing!! So that was how she came back that same day,with lots of love and joy,and she apologized for her mistake,and for the pain she caused me and my children. Then from that day,our relationship was now stronger than how it were before,by the help of a spell caster . So, i will advice you out there to kindly visit the same website http://bravespellcaster.yolasite.com ,i f you are in any condition like this,or you have any problem related to "bringing your ex back. So thanks to Dr Brave for bringing back my wife,and brought great joy to my family once again.(bravespellcaster@gmail.com}, Thanks..

    ReplyDelete
  9. Anonymous8:44 AM


    I can't thank you enough for all that you have done for me. About a year ago I my partner split up, we had both made BIG mistakes in our relationship. He ended up moving away from me to pursue a new life. I knew in my heart that he would be the only one to make me happy. I was relieved when I found your email on a site about what you have done. I requested 1 to 2 day casting of the reunite us love spell and within 4days mark company had relocated him back to our hometown where I still lived. We immediately reconnected and move in with each other. Our wedding date is set for (OCT 2013) Expect to see your invite in the mail thanks to yekinipoweroflovetemple@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete