Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Shore; Sara Taylor

The Shore; Sara Taylor
Hogarth - May 2015


The Shore, is a tough novel for me to review. It certainly was a good book, but definitely not my favorite type of fiction.

The novel is a collection of (13) connected stories beginning in 1995 and covering a period of some 250 years past and well into the future.  The first chapter alone packs a punch and that shock factor continues throughout most the book.

It begins with 13 year old Chloe and her sister Renee who live on remote Accomack Island off the VA coast.  Their mother is out of the picture, their father a meth dealer and user, and he has of violent temper asw well. Of course, the kids have a horrible life, dirt poor, no stability and not even basic electricity.  They crab for food to eat, not for the fun of it like some children.  One day while getting bait for crabbing, Chloe overhears a conversation between two people about the violent murder of a man named Cabel Bloxom, and by the end of just that first chapter there is more violence that surfaces.

So why did I continue reading?  I fell in love with Chloe and her sister in the first chapter, and just hoped she'd resurface the more I read (she did). She's a tough cookie who was taught to shoot a gun by the age of 5. She also becomes obsessed with the murder of Cabel and for good reason too.

I thought that the writing was amazing, and it was hard to believe that this is a debut novel. The descriptions of locales, people and events come alive on the pages, yet having said that, this was probably the toughest read I had in a while.  First, it's tough material: racism, plagues, violence, rape, abuse --substance, emotional and sexual, and even some magic. Secondly, the story is rolled out in nonlinear fashion and it was extremely hard to keep facts and dates straight even with a notepad.  I'm happy I started this book not knowing "anything" about it, as I might have skipped the book entirely based on the violence, missing out on a great experience.  Definitely, not for readers who prefer lighter reads, and in many ways this one seemed like the type of novel Oprah might pick for her bookclub selection.

4.5/5 stars
(review copy)

9 comments:

  1. I do enjoy a heavy book like that from time to time. I also like interconnected stories. This sounds like a definite winner to me.

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  2. This is one of the best books I've read this year, for all the reasons you listed. I think the cover (and even the blurb!) is a little misleading and might make readers pick it up expecting a much lighter read than what they'll end up getting.

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  3. I'm just beginning to hear things about this book. Short stories are not usually my favorites, but I've read other books that sound like they are set up in this fashion and loved them. Keeping it in mind.

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  4. Sounds a bit too heavy for me, but interesting!

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  5. I can't decide whether or not to read this one. So many people are raving about it, but I don't normally enjoy interconnected stories. Your review has pushed me towards trying it as it sounds as though the writing/characters are strong enough to override that problem. Thanks for the review!

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  6. My book club used to refer to Oprah selections as "downtrodden women books". I'm really intrigued by your review, but can't decide whether I want to read this or not.

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  7. The cover of this one makes me want to drop everything and run out to get it. But, interconnected stories are not my fave thing.

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  8. I felt somewhat the same way you did about this one. I went in blind, which I normally love to do, but wish I'd had more info before starting this one so my expectations were in line and I could take notes from the beginning. That being said, once I got into the swing of things, I loved it. I wasn't bothered by the violence, more by figuring out the structure. And, I agree about Chloe...that first chapter really grabbed me.

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  9. Interesting. I'm not usually a fan of connected stories, but I am curious.

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