This is an absorbing story, and the feelings of isolation—not just geographical—are palpable.
Being quite obsessed with Alaska at the moment, I find the portrait of this particular rural Alaskan community very interesting, though I actually enjoyed the first half of the book more. Perhaps this is because I identified so strongly with the mother and her magazine picture. Then, when she got to Alaska, her reaction surprised me and I found myself disconnecting a little. But this is all part of the complexity of the characters, and Deb Vanasse did a great job at it. I had a hard time keeping a few of the minor characters straight, since so many were introduced together, but that didn’t detract much from the story.
The style is very literary, very introspective. It’s thus a little slow, but in a good way, a deep way. Some of the prose has the feel of poetry to it. Like much poetry, individual bits may not be clear, cloaked in metaphor and hiding things between the lines, but all together they create a cohesive whole that beautifully conveys the atmosphere and the emotions of the characters.
The ending isn’t tied up in a bow, which is realistic and literary, but I needed just a bit more closure, even if it wasn’t happy. I want to know what was going to happen to these characters I care about, and what final decisions they’re going to make.
This was a very good read, and I look forward to more of Deb Vanasse’s work, much of which is set in Alaska.
*I received an advanced reading copy in exchange for an honest review*