I’m having a hard time rating The Light Between Oceans, which is a powerful story that had me thinking and asking myself what I would do in the characters’ shoes. Unfortunately, I also found the build up tedious. Most of what we learn about the characters and their individual histories is important because the decisions they make and the actions they take wouldn’t have happened if they weren’t the people they are – private, guilt-ridden Tom, vivacious but touched by loss Isabel, and intelligent, martyr-like Hannah – and hadn’t endured the individual pain they’d endured during the first World War, in the post-war world, and in the solitary life on the lights. It was all interesting but eventually, the build up to the Sherbournes’ inevitable return to Partageuse got repetitive. We get it, the Sherbourne were a happy little family alone on Janus Rock even as Tom’s guilt eats away at him and strains his once enviable marriage. And then the wait to find out how it all would be was agonizingly slow. A slow motion tug-of-war over a little girl and the future of two families. For the last half of the book, I kept telling myself that there was no way that the book could have a happy ending. And what would have been a happy ending? There was no possible conclusion where someone’s heart wouldn’t be shattered. I suppose the way it ended was one of the happier options but it was still heartbreaking. I think I’ll give it a 2.75-star rating.
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