It has been a long while since I picked up a book that was so heart wrenching that it made me cry. In fact, I think that I can count on one hand the number of books that I have read in my lifetime that have actually brought tears streaming down my face. The Light Between Oceans by M L Stedman will sit proudly in that list though.
You might recognise the name and that’s probably because the movie adaptation was released last year. As always though, I'm late to the bandwagon and I still haven't found the time to sit down and watch it. Forever the pessimist when it comes to things like this though, I still remained adamant that neither the film nor the book would live up to the hype. These things never do, do they? But then my friend Amy insisted that I read it. And my mum started to continuously ask me whether I had watched the film yet or not.
So, I relented and dove into the first page of the book. And wow am I glad that I did.
"Right and wrong don't look so different anymore to some." - M L Stedman
The book questions the notion that anyone can be entirely good or bad. It highlights how even the decisions that are made with the best intentions, can lead to tricky situations. And it will have you torn as you try to decipher the boundaries between right and wrong.
I found myself torn throughout the book, desperately caring for all of the characters, unsure on whose side I was on and forever wishing that they would all be able to enjoy a happy ending. But of course, life is not that simple and that is exactly the issue that the novel addresses so eloquently.
In all honesty, I found the first chapter a bit slow going. But then I was hooked. I devoured the book in less than a week, which, when you consider I am only home for a couple of hours each evening (and I need to shower and eat in that time), is quite impressive.
Despite its slow start, the book builds momentum and by the time I reached the end I was in a flurry of panic. I read the last sentence with a tight knot in my throat, unwilling to let the story end just yet. And then, when I did finally pluck up the courage to reach the end of the final page, I thought about the book for days afterwards. Stedman shakes up everything you think you know about the existence of black and white solutions and she highlights the sheer vulnerability that comes from being human in ways that I don't think I've ever seen an author do so beautifully before.
If you're looking for a book that contains characters that you’ll fall in love with, a story that is spectacularly relatable and is written so beautifully and so poetically, while still remaining easy to read, you need to pick up a copy of The Light Between Oceans.
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