Published October 2012 by Unbridled Books
Source: this book courtesy of the publisher - thanks, Caitlin!
If you've followed this blog for long, you know that Peter Geye's Safe From The Sea was my favorite book of 2011. I passed it all around and it was a hit with everyone who read it. It will come as no surprise, then that when Caitlin (Unbridled Books) offered me an ARC of Geye's upcoming book The Lighthouse Road I even stop to consider if I had time to read it soon; I knew I would make time.
Geye travels back in time for The Lighthouse Road, telling the story of a mother and son. In 1896, a young Norwegian girl has settled into Gunflint in northern Minnesota, after arriving there alone and friendless. Twenty-four years later, Thea Eide's son, Odd, is every bit a man of the land, working hard to make enough money to reach his dream of making his own boat. But he has also fallen in love with the one woman in town he shouldn't and being with her is going to mean leaving the only home he has ever known, saying goodbye to friends and escaping the man who delivered and raised him, Hosea Grimm.
While The Lighthouse Road and Safe From The Sea are, on the surface, completely different stories, there are themes that tie the two together, most notably family. The Lighthouse Road looks at what makes a group of people a family, it also revisits the relationship between a parent and a child and the idea that the land itself can help form those relationships."Years later, whenever he tried to reconcile the defining moments of his childhood with the man he had become, he thought of that moment on the precipice as a divining one, when he became, for better or worse, the person he would always be."
Geye's characters and the land are interchangeable - the land very much a character in the book, the characters very much formed by the land. They are people who have adapted to the land but who seem, at the same time to belong nowhere else. The land is raw and brutal, the people are tough and brutal and Geye spares his readers nothing from a bear mauling, a wolf pack attack, and a botched surgery. The cold, the wind, the isolation are all palpable.
It took me some time to become attached to the characters, for better or for worse, as the story moves back and forth in time. Geye writes such strong characters that it wasn't long before I was deeply invested in them, struggling to understand their actions, holding out hope for them, sharing in their sadness. Several days after finishing the book, I find myself thinking about Hosea and his "daughter," Rebekah, two incredibly complex characters.
There are little treasures of surprises in the book but Geye saved the best of last in this one - the final paragraphs left me gaping. Kudos, Peter Geye; I love an ending I never saw coming!
Thanks to Unbridled Books for allowing me to get this sneak peek of The Lighthouse Road.