Monday, June 13, 2016

Book Review: "Two if by Sea" by Jacquelyn Mitchard

This novel opens with a very powerful scene:  a tsunami hits Brisbane, Australia at midnight during Christmas destroying nearly everything in its path.  The many victims include Frank Mercy's pregnant wife and her entire family whom had been sleeping at a beachside motel.  Mercy, a former police officer, is a wreck but can only move forward and assists in the rescue effort.  He manages to rescue a little boy from a sinking minivan, and feels the need to take care of him.  So much so that he brings him home to his family's horse farm in Wisconsin, introducing him as his adopted son Ian.  Everyone loves Ian.  Frank starts to notice something he calls "the Ian effect" in which it seems Ian can manipulate people's motivations and get them to be nice, or give him what he wants.  As this "Ian effect" becomes more prominent, it also seems there are some sinister people looking for Ian - people who aren't afraid to kill to get what they want.

I have been trying to figure out how to talk about this book, as it has so many different layers it seems.  I loved the family saga, and connected with all the different roles family members play.  Frank Mercy doesn't have a huge family, but it's big enough (especially as he's added to it) and there is a lot of love there.  I loved Ian and thought he was a strong and vulnerable little boy all rolled into one.  I liked reading about the horses too, which is something I really don't know much about at all.  And I loved the setting and scenery.  This story ultimately takes place on three different continents, and I liked how the setting changed and laid down foundation for the plot.

But I did have an issue with pacing throughout.  I just couldn't seem to stay in the same tempo as the writing sometimes.  There were scenes that I thought were a little too drawn out and slowed down when it needed to be quick and intense, and others that I didn't quite understand why it rushed.  I did read this from an ARC though, and some of that could have been corrected before the final print was put on the shelves.  I did like the book though, and thought it an interesting mix of family saga, adventure/survival with a touch of paranormal thrown in.

Two if by Sea
by Jacquelyn Mitchard
Simon & Schuster, 2016
416 pages
Source:  ARC from ALA-MW


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