The author prefaced Chapter One with the following quote by Thoreau:
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
This is a brilliant move by the author because you immediately know from this opening quote that the main character, Ana Deschanel, will be on a journey of self-discovery.
Opening sentence: “All I’m saying is, Deliverance was based on a true story.”
Beginning the book with dialogue is another brilliant move by the author because it provides the setting and tone for the story in a single sentence. So much is said with this one word: deliverance. If you have read the book or watched the movie Deliverance, then how can you NOT keep reading? In the book Deliverance, four businessmen set out to explore the Georgia wilderness. They expect it to be a fun escape from their day job and are not prepared for the horror that awaits them in the remote backwoods.
It is the same for Ana. She expects to escape her troubles in New Orleans and find clarity in the solitude of Summer Island. Just as the backwoods of Georgia is unfamiliar territory for the characters in Deliverance, Summer Island is unknown territory for Ana; one full of danger where even the weather can be life-threatening for the ill-prepared. This small island off the coast of Maine, where the locals disapprove of temporary residents, especially one from the wealthy Deschanel family, is not the picturesque setting she expected, nor are the people she meets.
Alex, the caretaker, is friendly and helpful. The St. Andrews brothers, Finn and Jon, are her neighbors and despite having the same last name, they are polar opposites. Finn is the outgoing, ruggedly handsome outdoorsy type. He is a fisherman with a reputation as a player (the exact type Ana has a weakness for but cannot emotionally relate to). Jon is dark and brooding and socially awkward, finding it difficult to relate to people. He is a veterinarian who prefers to use his medical skills to help animals rather than people. He shares many character traits with Ana. She is wary of both but for different reasons but eventually finds herself caught in the middle, attracted to both.
Both Ana and Jon are gifted with the ability to heal people. Ana possesses a supernatural ability to heal people but can only seem to heal herself despite her best efforts otherwise. Jon came by his gift naturally and trained to be a doctor, but turned away from that profession and chose instead to heal animals. Both of their gifts will be put to the test.
This book is written from multiple points of view with each chapter offering a glimpse into the mind of a different character. You won’t find a Mary Sue or Marty Stu in this book. Each character is flawed in some way and each is faced with internal and external conflicts that push them beyond their comfort zone. The characters are skillfully developed with differences in dialect and dialogue. The author’s use of dialogue is so skillful that I wished she had employed it even more in the story.
This book was full of suspense, and with hints of romance and the paranormal, it was a real page-turner. I stayed up late to finish reading it and I’m anxiously awaiting the next book in the series! Great job Sarah!
4.5 out of 5 stars.