The Light Between Oceans Review

Rating: 4 Stars

As the second book I would review as part of the Hooked To Books Challenge, I decided to go with one I had heard a lot of buzz about lately.  The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman was recently made into a film, featuring Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander.  I’d seen the trailer on television, marked it in the back of my mind as interesting, and basically forgot about it until I saw the novel in Barnes and Noble.  The summary seemed interesting enough, so I bought it on sale and took it home.

The Light Between Oceans is the tale of a man, Tom Sherborne, and his wife Isabel, who live on the isolated island of Janus Rock in Western Australia and care for the lighthouse there.  After three unfortunate miscarriages and much despair, a man and child wash ashore during the storm.  The man is dead, but the baby is alive.  A cardigan makes the couple think the mother must have drowned.  Instead of reporting the deaths and returning the baby ashore, Isabel convinces Tom that the child is a gift from God, and that they must raise it.  A few years later, happy with their daughter, Tom and Isabel go ashore on the mainland to find that the child’s true mother is not dead- but in fact has been waiting for her child all along.  

How could you not be interested at that prospect.  I had never heard such a plotline, and was instantly intrigued.  The novel did not disappoint- well written and insanely suspenseful, the pages seemed to breeze by without my noticing, even as I dug deeper into the conflict between Tom and Isabel’s guilt and their love for their newfound daughter.  

The only reason I would provide The Light Between Oceans with four stars instead of five is because the ending was so heart-wrenching, and not in a way you are used to.  Often in novels, when something goes wrong or it ends in a way you were not expecting, it is justified.  However, I felt the characters, near the end of the novel, just let things happen.  The daughter- Lucy-’s feelings towards her biological mother were of fear.  She wanted to be with Isabel and Tom.  I felt that was justified- the people that raised her were her parents, regardless of blood.  The other mother suffered, and it is saddening what happened to her family, but I feel none of the characters were thinking of what was best for the daughter.  You feel so terrible for her, and for Isabel and Tom who had loved her and cared for her, only to watch her be taken.

The novel truly makes you think about what it means to be a family.  Blood never made a difference to Isabel and Tom.  They loved their ‘daughter’ like none other.  It never made a difference to Lucy either, who was in paradise on Janus with her ‘parents’.  Readers are used to feeling distressed in romance novels, where a loved one dies.  But reading The Light Between Oceans bring to light a different kind of love- the bond between parent and child.  It is unmarked territory, and M.L. Stedman set her flag there beautifully.  I definitely recommend anyone read it, especially if you are wanting to know what that parental bond feels like.