Beside the Sea; Veronique Olmi Page
Tin House Books - 2012
Beside the Sea is a deeply haunting story of fewer than 120 pages that packs a punch.
A single mother leaves home with her two young sons telling them they are going to see the sea. Stan is 9, and a good son, polite, obedient and protective of his young brother, Kevin, age 5. Stan is always guarded and anxious to please his fragile mother. With just a few personal items and clothing in their travel bags, and very little cash, it's evident that the unnamed mother has not thought things through before they leave home.
Instead of the trip to the sea being a happy event, it is anything but. It's winter and the sea is angry and frightening. The flea-bag hotel where they find a room is disgusting, and during their brief stay, it becomes quickly obvious that the mother is troubled, depressed and anxious and her paranoia has only intensified. Her children, especially the older son, Stan, seems to be used to her erractic behavior and understands his mother's need to sleep away some weekends while the boys amuse themselves.
The reader senses early on that this story is unlikely to have a happy ending. I loved how this story hit deep into the fractured mind and the darker side of motherhood. This is definitely not a book for all readers, but those who do read it will not forget the story.
Thanks go to respected blogger, Jackie @ Farm Lane Books, for posting her Best Books for Understanding the Darker Side of Society.