October 07, 2011

The Lightkeeper's Daughter by Iain Lawrence

This was a very strange book. I picked it up on a whim for some light reading and because I was attracted to the cover. It's considered a juvenile fiction book, but I've found some very entertaining and well written books in that section so I wouldn't consider it a reason to not read the book if you are an adult.

Seventeen year old Squid (real name Elizabeth) is on a boat with her three year old daughter Tatiana traveling to an island that was her home for thirteen years. She's very apprehensive about the trip and what her mother and father, Helen and Murray, will think about her daughter, and what they will think about her since they haven't seen each other for years. Just thinking about the island brings back terrible memories as her brother Alastair had died there shortly before she left to give birth to her daughter. When she lands, its hard to see her parents and remember all the pain that they and the island brought by keeping her and her brother isolated there.

When she can, she escapes to the smaller house on the island where her brother had lived and reads his journals. They are filled with pain and his longing to leave the island and bring back memories for her of when they were small and traveling around the waters and island together. She reads these notes in secret and hopes that her mother and father won't find out about this, but she shouldn't worry too much as they have found distraction in her daughter. All these painful memories make her want to leave though but for the first time her daughter seems to be thriving. She's not sure what the best route to take would be.

These characters make up a very confused family. At times its painful to watch them interact with each other. This however, serves to make them very human and I do think that they were well written in this case. One complaint I would have in characterization would be Squid's reactions to some things. At times she acts like a normal seventeen year old and can get huffy at nearly anything, but the majority of the time she acts very old and mature. Granted she had a child young and had to grow up fast but it didn't feel authentic to me. There was just a sense that her character really didn't act like a seventeen year old most of the time.

The writing was in the third person and was written very clearly. Lawrence did an excellent job of keeping his writing level at a point that wasn't too mature for the juvenile crowd, but not too immature to make them avoid the book thinking it was for younger children. It deals with a lot of weighty topics and to my opinion, would appeal to the moodiness that some teenagers have at that age. That being said there were some things I was disappointed in. The book was written in third person and jumps around from Alastair's journal, to bits of the past Squid remembers, and the present time in which she is visiting. Normally this wouldn't' be a problem but its very choppily done in this book. It definitely could have flowed much smoother between transitions of subjects and time.

I wasn't crazy about this book but then I had to remember that I'm not in the age group it was directed at. It has an overall sense of moodiness and angst and I can see it resonating with people who need someone to understand the loneliness and awkwardness they are going through. If it weren't for the hard readability I would probably rate this book fairly well, but as such it was just average to me. If I happen to see them I'll check out some of his other work's as Lawrence does seem to be a talented writer. Hopefully I'll enjoy them more than I did this one.

The Lightkeeper's Daughter
Copyright 2002
246 pages

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