‘You’ve probably been thinking about coming back here for a while,’ she finally says.
‘Ever thought about coming back to live?’
I can’t answer right away, instead pretend there’s more tea in the empty cup.
‘Not til today.’ When I say it I realize that I have been thinking about it, have been easing back into the landscape like putting on a favorite coat. I hate this place and I love this place and I don’t know if I want to go as far away as possible or never leave.
That last sentence is the sentiment that flows from just about every character in Sara Taylor’s debut novel The Shore. The pull of the area that makes up this mostly poor, marshy clump of islands is what the Shore’s residents feel, even though most of them have had unbelievably hard lives.
The Shore is a collection of thirteen short stories, each told during different times and about various people, all who are somehow related or acquainted in one way or another. From the late 1800s to the early twenty-second century, Ms. Taylor’s stories range from the quiet conversations between a brother and sister, to the explosive violence of a young girl trying to save her sister. Each character is unique in his or her own way but also inherently human.
One of the most powerful stories in Ms. Taylor’s debut is called “Skirt,” and it is not for the faint of heart. The author tells the tale of a card game gone horribly wrong like one who has been writing for many, many years. The story is dark, tense and brutal and doesn’t leave you feeling warm and fuzzy when it’s done. In fact, I felt like someone had punched me in the gut over and over again. The Shore is not a place full of rainbows and unicorns, but one of violence, hard living and sometimes death. But unless you’re from there, outsiders will never understand its hold on the people who never leave.
I do wish that all of the stories in The Shore had the same effect on me as “Skirt,” but unfortunately, a couple fell short. But you can forgive Ms. Taylor for that because the rest are amazing, which makes her book one I recommend. I look forward to reading more of her work.
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.