By Sara Taylor
Hogarth May 2015
From the library
Off the coast of Virginia lies a cluster of islands. One is known for beautiful wild ponies but, for the most part, the people of the islands are left to themselves for better or worse. The Shore is both beautiful and dangerous and populated by people who exhibit the best and worst aspects of human nature. Readers will meet a wide variety of characters: Chloe and Rene are young sisters trying to stay safe from dangerous men, including the one who lives in their house; a young woman escapes from her father only to discover that her husband isn't as safe as she imagined; a boy wonders if working as a bootlegger will finally get his family out of their financial troubles.
The Shore is one of those books that is very difficult to categorize. It's billed as a novel, although I think it might be best described as linked short stories. The characters in these chapters connect to each other in unexpected ways, but are separated from each other by generations and by the choices that each one makes. Some of these tales sound like stories you might hear told in hushed voices in your own community, while others contain surprising moments of magic and imagination.
This book is one where you flip the final page and want to start it all over again to find missed connections and to better understand the literary magic that Sara Taylor has up her sleeve. It can be difficult to keep the connections straight because the stories jump all over the timeline, but putting things together is half the fun of reading this book. Readers get to meet women and children of unimaginable strength who are forced to make terrible choices in the midst of their circumstances.
The Shore is a debut novel, which gives this reader great hope and excitement about the future works of Ms. Taylor. It is extremely dark, but somehow in the midst of all of that pain, Taylor finds the good in the grace of her words, in the courage of her characters, and in the unexpected moments of beauty on this island that is dangerous but will still always be home.