I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest and thoughtful review.
“The summer sun pressed down hard on the Aransas shoreline, turning the loose, dry sand on the beach into a pale, gritty ash that burned the bottoms of even the toughest feet and sent the tourists retreating to the cool of their condos and restaurants.”
As a native of Corpus Christi, I am quite familiar with the Port Aransas area and this book immediately set a strong sense of place along the Texas coast that I call home. The entire time I was reading, I couldn’t shake the sensation that I been thrust back there again! The author beautifully and meticulously captured the setting in such incredible detail that I could feel the salty breeze blowing through my hair, the gritty sand between my toes, and hear the cawing of seagulls, the waves lapping, and the ferry’s metallic drone! His picturesque descriptions are utterly breathtaking and definitely enhance the mood of this intensely atmospheric story.
While the first book, ARANSAS MORNING, is the story of how a discordant group of individuals comes together to create the family they ultimately need, this book returns to their lives and delves deeper into those forged bonds. Each is tested again through some tragic or unfortunate circumstances, culminating with Hurricane Harvey’s arrival. I had anticipated the hurricane to drive the tension and plot; however, it crept in quite suddenly, as these things tend to do, near the end. Regardless, I thoroughly appreciated the author’s use of storms as a metaphor to place perspective throughout the story on their own unique and personal pain especially when a literal storm rages down on them. Ranking as the second most costly hurricane to hit the U.S. mainland, it is a visceral reminder that such devastating storms are both terrifyingly life-quenching in the moment yet pregnant with possibility in the aftermath. In stark contrast to its violent and fierce nature, the hurricane brought out the nurturing and supporting force within this community to solidify friendship and love even in the most unlikely places.
‘It may look to you like we’re all longtime friends, but we’re not…What I’m trying to say is that none of us woke up one day and decided to create this…this family…that we seem to have. It just happened.’
I really appreciated how authentic, realistic, and quite contradictory this cast of characters was portrayed. They were all hardworking, friendly individuals who found themselves facing struggles like anyone else and picked themselves up using their healthy connections and relationships with one another to keep moving forward. None of them was perfect and they didn’t always make the best choices, but they continued to push themselves as well as each other towards redemption and happiness, and in the end, I believe that’s really all any of us can do.
As with much of island life, the pacing is much slower, strengthening that sleepy vibe of tourist centered locales. This heavily drawn character study is immersive, heartwarming, masterfully relatable, and delightfully engaging.