A Discussion On: The Light between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
Summary: After four years of serving in WWI, Tom Sherbourne returns home a broken man. He takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on the small, isolated island of Janus Rock, off the coast of Australia so that he can be alone with his thoughts. While visiting the mainland on one of his shore leaves, he meets Isabel Graysmark. She is young, and vibrant, and manages to make him smile through all his pain and loneliness. Tom and Isabel get married, and she follows him to Janus Rock. When Isabel finds out that she is pregnant, the couple is overjoyed. But, after two miscarriages and one stillborn, they are left in broken pieces.
One windy day following their recent tragedy, Tom and Isabel hear the faint cries of a baby. They discover that a boat had washed ashore, with a dead man and a newborn onboard. Tom, whose job is to report all incidents that occur on or near the island, wants to report the baby and the man immediately, but Isabel convinces him to keep the baby and claim her as their own. Two years later, they return to the mainland on a shore leave and discover that the choices they have made may not have been without consequences.
My thoughts: Stedman did a beautiful job in describing the world of Janus Rock. The imagery made me feel as if I was there on the island with Tom and Isabel and Lucy. The character development was also wonderful, because by the end of the novel, I didn't feel like these were fictional characters. I felt their joy and their pain, and it was as if I was just a quiet observer to their journey.
This was such a heartbreaking story. It reminded me that life is not just black and white, but that there are a lot of gray areas. It is a beautiful story about a parent’s love, and about sacrifice and forgiveness. This novel addresses many moral dilemmas and made me wonder what choices I would make if I were in Tom and Isabel’s shoes. Does it mean that I am a bad person if I agreed with Isabel on keeping the baby?
Before having my son, I had a miscarriage and it nearly tore me apart. I was devastated from the pain of losing a life that I had only begun to love, but also from the feeling that I had failed when so many other women were capable of having children. I was filled with so much anger and wondered what sins I had committed to deserve such a horrible punishment. The pain consumes you, and I definitely felt all of Isabel’s grief from losing her three babies.
The morally logical side of me knows that it was wrong for them to keep the baby, but that little girl brought so much life back into their hearts that I kept rooting for them and praying that no one would find out and they’d all live happily ever after.
Maybe I am just a very emotional person, but this novel was a total tearjerker. I was crying so hard at times that it was hard to read the words on the page. As a mother, the book really tugged at my heartstrings. I’m not sure how it’s possible, but reading this story made me love my son even more than I thought possible. I found myself creeping into his room while he was sleeping just to look at his sweet face. It made me appreciate so much being able to have this little boy who has made my heart swell as big as the moon.
"Oh, but my treasure, it is so much less exhausting. You only have to forgive once. To resent, you have to do it all day, every day. You have to keep remembering all the bad things...I would have to make a list, a very, very long list and make sure I hated the people on it the right amount. That I did a proper job of hating, too: very Teutonic! No' - his voice became sober- 'we always have a choice. All of us."
“Izz, I've learned the hard way that to have any kind of a future you've got to give up hope of ever changing your past.”
“They [the stars] just kept shining, no matter what was going on. I think of the light here like that, like a splinter of a star that's fallen to earth: it just shines, no matter what is happening.”