Monday, June 9, 2014

Sea Creatures

You guys. Just... order this right now because you need this book in your life, right now.

Sea Creatures - Susanna Daniel
Sea Creatures
When Georgia returns to her hometown of Miami, her toddler son and husband in tow, she is hoping for a fresh start. They have left Illinois trailing scandal and disappointment in their wake: Graham's sleep disorder has cost him his tenure at Northwestern; Georgia's college advising business has gone belly up; and three-year old Frankie is no longer speaking. Miami feels emptier without Georgia's mother, who died five years earlier, but her father and stepmother offer a warm welcome-as well as a slip for the dilapidated houseboat Georgia and Graham have chosen to call home. And a position studying extreme weather patterns at a prestigious marine research facility offers Graham a professional second chance.

When Georgia takes a job as an errand runner for an artist who lives alone in the middle of Biscayne Bay, she's surprised to find her life changes dramatically. Time spent with the intense hermit at his isolated home might help Frankie gain the courage to speak, it seems. And it might help Georgia reconcile the woman she was with the woman she has become.

But when Graham leaves to work on a ship in Hurricane Alley and the truth behind Frankie's mutism is uncovered, the family's challenges return, more complicated than before. Late that summer, as a hurricane bears down on South Florida, Georgia must face the fact that her choices have put her only child in grave danger.

Sea Creatures is a mesmerizing exploration of the high stakes of marriage and parenthood, the story of a woman coming into her own as a mother, forced to choose between her marriage, her child, and the possibility of new love.

You maybe don't know that I have a total reader crush on Susanna Daniel. I have read her first book, Stiltsville, so many times I can't count. That book was the first one I could quote out of and there is a line at the end that every time I think of it, I tear up just a little bit. I have purchased more copies of that book than any other and it's one of my most highly recommended books. Her latest book, Sea Creatures, is going to be such a tough rival. I loved it so much I can't tell you which of her two I loved more. It's like picking a favorite child, sometimes you just love one a little more at certain times. 

One of my favorite things about Susanna is that she has this ability to write where you are being punched in the gut all of the way through the story because it may  not be your story- but you identify with it. It's like she knows the secrets you don't even tell you closest friends and she just lays them bare on the page. You're left reeling, looking around to see if people are watching you because you just feel like it's all being projected across your face at the same time. This is one of those books that you just can't stop. 

In this book, we're centered mostly around Georgia and her son, Frankie. Her husband, Graham, has all kinds of sleep issues but they are dangerous and in retrospect, it makes for a terrifying home life for Frankie. Which is maybe why he's gone mute. While Georgia is grieving her mother's death, dealing with their heaving home life, questioning how good of a mother can she possible be when her child refuses to speak, and now she's thrust into an oddly comforting work relationship with a hermit who lives on a stilt house. What struck me through this entire book is that nobody is ever really who they seem. No matter how much you're around a person or what you think you know, you only know what they want you to know or show you. There is so much more to a person than just what you know. 

What I love about Susanna is that her books really center around marriage, how difficult it can be especially when raising children. A lot of similarities can be drawn between her two books but both have vastly different endings. There is a passage in Sea Creatures that I instinctively highlighted because it sums up what I've said for years about marriage: I don't believe on being in love for years. It's impossible. You just get into a groove and it changes. It changes for the better, you just have to look for it. 

"Anyway, long story, I know, but after I hung up with him I had this thought: I don't love him like I did. But I love him in a new way, and we are in this thing together. We are going to raise these children or die trying."

And.. isn't that just it? That's all any of us are trying to do. Maybe that's why I loved Stiltsville so much. That last line, where the wife thanks her husband for her life... it just kills me. Because even though Matt and I are nothing like the couple we were in the beginning of our relationship or even the beginning of our marriage, we're a bit better. We've fought battles together and against each other. I sometimes wonder if it means more to me because of those experiences? I don't know. But what I do know is that Susanna Daniel gets it and for that? I will always be a die hard fan. I cannot recommend this book enough. It's so amazingly well written, the story just pulls at you and just when you think it's going to be smooth sailing tragedy strikes and Georgia's world basically implodes. And the very end? The last chapter in regards to Graham? Confirms, you really don't know what another person is dealing with- people hide all kinds of things. People make choices that make no sense to some but in the end, bring such peace to the ones that matter that everything seems destined. It's just... so god damn good, this book. 

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