Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Alice's Review: Bride Island

Bride IslandSummary:  Can a mother reclaim the daughter she lost?

Six years ago, Polly Birdswell—drinking and deeply unhappy—made a decision that changed her life forever. Believing she could spare her young daughter a legacy of self-destruction, she left her husband and child and moved north to a coastal town in Maine. There, close to Bride Island, the beloved family retreat she considers her true home, she set about getting sober and remaking her life.

Now Polly desperately wants seven-year-old Monroe back and is determined to prove—to herself especially—she’s a stable and loving mother. At the same time, a sudden decision to sell Bride Island unleashes a wave of family greed that endangers the island’s future. As Polly and her siblings try to claim ownership of what they love, they discover some things can never truly be owned, and Polly must again ask herself what she’s willing to relinquish. Beautifully written and emotionally complex, Bride Island is a poignant debut novel about love, motherhood, and the haunting and sometimes conflicting pulls of family and the places that shape us.

Review:  Bride Island sounds like one of the most perfect places on earth.  It takes 15 minutes to walk across it, over an hour to walk its circumference.  It is located in the Atlantic, off the coast of Maine.  It is family owned, they are the only inhabitants.  It doesn’t have electricity or running water.  It is truly the place to go to get away from it all.  Do I wish for my own Bride Island Absolutely.  I imagine it to be completely peaceful.  I imagine days on my own private beach, nights really by candlelight.  It would be my place to run free.  Polly Birdswell felt the same way.  Bride Island came into her family when her mom remarried.  Although she began going there as an adolescent, it was as much a part of her as if she had been born there.  With all the happiness Bride Island brought her, it brought its share of heartache too.  In reading this story it’s as if the island is as much of a character as Polly.  I liked Polly, I really did.  I liked her so much that I was so angry at her at times I had to put the book down because I wanted to ring her neck.  I love that in a book. 

There were times when I thought it was completely unrealistic.  One of the reasons I enjoy reading women’s literature is that for the most part they stick to reality.  Polly is an alcoholic.  I thought that although Ms. Enders writes a realistic account of alcoholism, I think at times Polly doesn’t deal with her disease very realistically.  Life doesn’t always have a perfect ending and I really think that Polly shouldn’t have had one either. 
Overall, this novel was a very good read.  Alexandra Enders managed to fit a lot of story in a short book.  As the protagonist, Polly does an excellent story of giving us everyone else’s thoughts and feelings.  She gives unbiased opinions on them and their situations.  She is fair in her judgments and does her best to get her family to see their truth as well.  One of things Polly has to deal with is the death of her younger brother.  I love that she says, “He will always be young, even when we are old.”  This novel is full of little gems like this. 
As I re-read my review, I realize that at times I write as if I didn’t like it very much.  The biggest disappointment for me was that, although I think Polly deserved a little happiness, it was almost too perfect an ending.  In addition there are some subjects this novel addresses that are difficult to read about.  The reality is that I liked this novel a lot.  Those two things aside, I felt it was well written, easy to read.  There were times I couldn’t put it down and others where I had to put it down because I wanted to shake some sense into the characters in the novel.  There is so much more to this novel than a story about an alcoholic woman and the island she loves.  It’s worth the read.  See for yourself.
Final Take: 4/5


Julie P December 14, 2010 at 8:11 AM  

This one is on my shelf. Thanks for sharing!

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