The Shore is a series of short stories about people living on an island off of Virginia. They are all loosely connected only because they share the same family tree and themes of abuse, alcohol, and sorrow. For a more complete summary, you can go here.
The first chapter was so amazing. It was so vivid and creepy that it actually gave me the chills—which has never happened to me before while reading a book. After that chapter, I had really high hopes for the rest of the book, which was unfortunately squandered.
All of the stories are tied together by a family tree, which is provided for the reader in the front of the book. But there were way too many characters to keep track of. Sometimes the main character of the chapter wasn’t even part of the family tree. And other times you don’t even learn their name until near the end of the chapter. I wasted a lot of time looking at the family tree trying to make sense of it all. I would have rather had them be all unrelated, because trying to piece everything together took away from the stories. If they were just stories all taking place on the same island, I think I would have been able to let go of trying to understand who everyone was.
Also, the stories span hundreds of years (into the past and future). The stories were sad, but they also could have been realistic—until you get to the future. It was only like twenty years from now, but yet people have three legs and weird defects. It turned a little too scifi for me to consider it realistic fiction anymore. I kept also trying to look back at the family tree to figure out how old everyone was based on the current year—which also required me to figure out who exactly I was reading about, bringing me back to my first complaint.
Another thing that I didn’t like, was that it jumped around from first to second to third person. It would have been better to stick with just one—plus I never like reading books in second person anyway.
This book had such great potential. The writing was vivid and beautiful. Some of the stories were depressing and too real. But other stories didn’t seem to fit or add to the book. I did like the exploration into generational suffering. The family tree started out with horrible events, and therefore it kept getting passed down the line. Some family members were able to escape their horrible pasts, but some just kept teaching sorrow to their kids.
If you are interested in buying the book, you can buy it here. After you have read it, leave a comment and let me know what you think!
*** 3/5 Stars