The Light Between Oceans was stylistically a well-written book, the use of past and present tense seamlessly was impressive, but the narrative didn’t completely sell me that this story would ever happen in real life. At first, I loved the slow narration and the life that these individuals lived on an island, taking care of a lighthouse. I wanted more technical details about Tom taking care of the lighthouse and everything that entailed. I also wanted more details on how Isabel kept their home with gardening and raising livestock. The idea that they created their own little ecosystem really fascinated me. Once the baby entered the story, I was a bit skeptical that this story would turn out in a way I would be satisfied, and I was correct.
Isabel and Tom find a stranded baby inside a boat along with the baby’s presumedly dead father and a piece of clothing that may have belonged to the mother. Isabel believes that the baby is delivered to her by God because she is unable to conceive herself, after having 3 miscarriages. They later find out that the mother is alive, on the mainland, and the baby and father escaped racial persecution by jumping into a boat to flee. Because they have raised Lucy to an age of 2 on the island and she has formed connections with not only her parents but has given her grandparents a new love for life, they decide to keep the baby. Tom, however, being a war veteran, wants to do the right thing and give Lucy back to her real mother.
I thought that the characterizations in this story were well done. Each of the characters has their flaws and genuine strengths that make the reader both understand and sympathize with their plight. This story is definitely one where you will be rooting for the family that took the baby and not the baby’s actual family. There is a struggle as a reader with what we know is the right thing and what our heart says is the right thing.
Even though the characters were well crafted the story was a bit shallow and its foundations were shaky. I’m not really sure why the mother of the baby didn’t take the baby herself when her husband was being targetted for being a German. The logic of Hannah, the baby’s mother near the end of the story was so odd and confusing. This story falls apart at times when you think about the events logically and critically. I just don’t think the actual plot was really that great and I think I was expecting more in the later parts of the book. The ending seemed rushed, melodramatic, and just strangely out of sync with the rest of the book.
I also wanted to mention that this is definitely not a historical fiction novel in the way I think of historical fiction. I learned next to nothing about the time period that this novel took place. The research and factual aspects of the story were lacking. This was a drama, first a foremost. The cultural aspects of Australia during the early 1920’s did not differentiate it from any other setting. It just wasn’t well researched at all. The Light Between Oceans was a good read but it definitely didn’t impact me in a way that will make it memorable for me.
15/25 Possible Score
Plot – 2
Characters – 4
Setting – 3
Writing Style – 3
Heart & Mind Aspect – 3