Online Reading Challenge – June Wrap-Up

Hello Fellow Challenge Readers!

How did your reading go this month? Did you read something set in Australia that you enjoyed? Share in the comments!

I read our main title: The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman. This book tore my heart out. The more I read, the more I was invested in what was going on in everyone’s lives. The prose is absolutely beautiful as the author describes the remote island setting (and all the other locations in the book). Honestly, I love any books set in Australia, especially narrators with Australian accents, so this was an almost guaranteed enjoyment for me. Let’s talk about the book!

Tom Sherbourn is a young World War I vet described by others as responsible, upstanding, and stalwart. The war ravaged him emotionally. After the war, Tom finds a job as a light-keeper on isolated Janus Rock off the western coast of Australia. During one of his shore leaves, Tom meets Isabel. Isabel is young and free-spirited. The two are soon married and set up house on Janus Rock to begin their life together as starry-eyed new lovers. Janus Rock is gorgeous. Tom starts to heal amongst the silence, solitude, and rumblings of the sea. The thing that would make their life complete is a baby, something that Isabel longs for intensely. Over several years, Isabel suffers two miscarriages and a devastating stillbirth. The couple are crushed.

One day a small boat washes up on Janus Rock. The two are stunned to find a dead body and a very much alive infant in the boat. Tom is required to record and report everything that happens on Janus Rock, but Isabel persuades a very reluctant Tom to not do so in this case. She reasons that the baby is most likely an orphan now. Isabel believes that this is a sign from the universe to reward them after the years of heartbreak the two have suffered in their attempts to have a child. Tom buries the dead man, sets the boat adrift, and tells himself the two are doing the right thing, although his conscience eats at him as time passes.

Tom, Isabel, and the baby have an almost perfect life on Janus Rock. Their trips back to shore to visit Isabel’s family however start to worry even more at Tom’s conscience. He broke the rules and omitted important information from his reports, something that could end his career and lead to him facing formal charges. Tom’s misgivings haunt him and soon enough, his worries actually amount to something. Their idyllic life comes crashing down. The family is forced to deal with the consequences of Tom and Isabel’s actions. Nothing will be the same.

I wasn’t sure what I expected when I started this book, but I was pleasantly surprised. I had never read this before (or seen the movie starring Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander, and Rachel Weisz). The depth of emotion presented through written words tore at my heart. As I was reading, I thought I was going to be sympathetic one way, but reading from multiple points of view really had me second-guessing my judgments and feelings. I find myself thinking about this book long after I finished it – wondering what choices I would have made if I had been put in a similar position. This book, to me, was a good reminder that you never know what a person is going through. Everyone has their own reasons for doing something and just because you wouldn’t necessarily behave a certain way doesn’t mean that someone else won’t. All in all, I enjoyed this book and found myself running through a wide range of emotions as I listened.

In July we’re headed to suburbia!

Online Reading Challenge – June

Welcome Readers!

This month the Online Reading Challenge travels to Australia, the smallest continent, yet one of the largest countries on Earth! Australia has jungle-coated islands, outback plains, vast wilderness frontiers, the world’s oldest living ecosystems, remote islands, and high peaks. Our Main title for June is The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman. We are in Australia for this book, though Janus Rock is a fictional island(fun fact: there is a Janus Island located near Antarctica). Here’s a quick summary of The Light Between Oceans from the publisher.

After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby.

Tom, who keeps meticulous records and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel insists the baby is a “gift from God,” and against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them.

This title is also available in large print, as a CD audiobook, a Libby eBook, and single book club books. You can also watch the movie version, which was released in 2016 starring Michael Fassbender as Tom and Alicia Vikander as Isabel.

As always, check each of our locations for displays with lots more titles to choose from!