Sunday, September 26, 2021

The Invisible Husband of Frick Island

  The Invisible Husband of Frick Island
Author:  Colleen Oakley
Publication Information:  Berkley. 2021. 368 pages.
ISBN:  1984806483 / 978-1984806482

Book Source:  I received this book through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "At first, when Piper scanned the docks and didn't see the familiar rickety white-pine-and-fir fisherman's trawler, she thought nothing of it."

Favorite Quote:  "Every human being - every single one of us - wakes up each morning hoping, believing, that today is not our day. Not our time. That the storm is not yet here. That our island will not be wiped out. That we will see the sunrise the next morning. That life is worth living. Otherwise, we wouldn't bother getting out of bed."

A books that begins with a tragic death in a storm ends up a sweet, sometimes silly feel-good summer beach read. The story ends up about a community - a family - takes care of its own and the way it envelops a member that is hurting.

The book just takes a everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach to telling the story. A storm. A death. Possible mental trauma. Depression. Therapy. Climate change. Development vs stewardship of natural resources. Journalism and the reputation of journalists. Podcasts. Family illness. Unresolved childhood issues. And bugs! Perhaps, more than that but that is a sufficiently diverse list of topics covered in this book.

Frick Island is a tiny strip of land in the Chesapeake Bay off the coast of Maryland. It has a small year-around community of about ninety people. That expands somewhat in the summer when a dwindling number of tourists arrive. Other than tourism, the main industry is fishing and crabbing, but that too is dwindling. Per the author's note, Frick Island is loosely modeled on the actual Smith Island in Maryland.

This is the island that Tom and Piper Parrish call home. The book begins as Tom's boat is lost in a storm, and young Piper is an inconsolable widow. The trauma of the loss has her talking to Tom as if he is still there. Out of love, so are the rest of the Frick Islanders!

Anders Caldwell is a journalist with dreams of the Washington Post and the New York Times. He is currently employed by a small local paper on the mainland. He comes to Frick Island to do a story on the Frick Island Cake Walk. He meets Piper.

In pursuit of his dreams, Anders is also a podcaster. His podcast currently has one listener - his stepfather. On a whim, he does an episode about Piper, the island, and the "invisible husband." His podcast takes off. He pretends on the island to be researching climate change and returns time and again to gather material. Of course, this leads to all kinds of questions.

Can you see where this is leading? A young woman in grief and at a crossroads. "... she realized that was the thing about loneliness. It made you susceptible to doing a whole manner of things you might not otherwise do." A young man with dreams but with empathy and love. A small town community that takes care of its own. Add to that the encroachment of "development" into the island way of life.

The story goes exactly where you expect it to go. It is at times over the top and silly, but in a way that has me laughing at the twists included. It is at the same time sweet and charming, perfect for a summer beach read.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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