Review: The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

Genre: General Fiction, Historical Fiction

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“Putting down the burden of the lie has meant giving up the freedom of the dream.” 

Tom Sherbourne returns to his home in Australia after 4 years of fighting in Europe during WW1. He decides to take a job as a lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, an island that is a few hours boat ride from the coast. On one of his short leaves from the island onto the mainland of Australia, Tom soon meets and falls in love with a beautiful young woman named Isabel. When the newlyweds return to their private island and lighthouse duties, they have big plans for starting a family. But the years pass with nothing but heartache….two miscarriages and one still birth leave both Tom and Isabel feeling like they will never be parents.

Then one dark and stormy night, Isabel is certain that she hears the weak and shrill cries of a baby in the wind. Tom and Isabel discover a small boat that has washed up on shore carrying a dead man and a living baby. Tom, who is a strict rule follower and takes his lighthouse keeper duties very seriously, wants to immediately report the boat and it’s passengers. But Isabel finds herself falling immediately in love with this tiny and helpless baby and she feels that fate or God has stepped in to make them parents after all. Against Tom’s better judgement, the couple decides to keep the baby, name her Lucy, and pass her off as their own child to the biannual supply boats that come to the Island.

When Lucy is two years old, the Sherbourne’s make their first trip to the mainland since becoming a family of three. While there, Tom and Isabel are reminded that there are other people in the world who have been affected by the choices they made two years previous. They must come to grips with the fact that sometimes the line between right and wrong can be very fuzzy and confusing…especially when you think you are doing what’s best for the people you love.

“We live with the decisions we make, Bill. That’s what bravery is. Standing by the consequences of your mistakes.”

This was an incredibly intense and emotional roller coaster of a ride! I found myself completely empathizing with every single character in this book, for different reasons and at different parts of the story. Very rarely has a book been written in such a way when it’s hard for the reader to not agree with or understand such opposing sides to the same story. The characters are very well written, believable and all are even likable in their own way…which is why this is such a roller coaster of a read. At no point was I convinced one person was right or wrong…there are no easy answers in this story and nothing is simple.

For the first half of this book, I was pretty sure that this would be an easy 4 star rating for me. But, at some point during the second half, I was absolutely certain that I could give this book no less than 5 stars. The Light Between Oceans pretty quickly earned it’s place into my “favorites” category and I foresee myself recommending this book often to many different people. It was for sure a tear jerker for me…so you’ll need the tissues handy and it’s not always an easy read as there is a lot of heartache and emotional torment in the story. But it’s a book that is worth the tears. This is a story about the blurred lines of right & wrong,  love and loss, the hard choices we make, and the long term consequences of those choices. I still can’t get over the fact that this is a debut novel…I will for sure be on the look out for other books by this author.

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

The Light Between Oceans – Amazon

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