I should know better than to read anything -- anything at all -- that is even remotely related to the death of a child. I've done it many times -- picked up a book and started to read, only to be smacked in the face by the horror of a child's death as a central plot line.
Yeah, I really can't handle it.
And so it was with Sea Change, by Jeremy Page (the author of Salt). I was invited to review this book as part of the BlogHer book review program and the description sounded great. I was in. I'd never read anything by Page, so I was interested to do so.
|Sea Change: A Novel|
It was painful. Painful and . . . exhausting. And also somewhat beautiful and intriguing. [Spoiler alert: If you don't want to know any details about what happens, turn away now.]
Sea Change is the story of Guy, a divorced man who is living alone at sea burdened with "the unassailable truth that life has stopped but time has not." Life, for Guy, stopped with the death of his four-year-old daughter. After her death, Guy's marriage fell apart and he grappled with his grief. As the story unfolds, Guy is grappling while living on a barge, heading for the North Sea.
He's alone with the heavy, heavy sadness of a man whose life was changed in a horrible way. What could be worse than having your four-year-old die? But what Guy does to deal with that grief, is to keep a diary where he imagines what his life would be like had the unimaginable not happened. It's . . . interesting. And incredibly sad.
Every night, he imagines a life with an intact family. In his diary, he creates a parallel world where instead of life stopping when his daughter, Freya, died, it goes on.
Reading about Guy's imagined world in contrast with his sad, sad existence full of heartbreaking scenes where he aches for his dead daughter, made me feel like I was witnessing grief from the inside. Page truly takes readers into the mind of a very depressed, lonely man. The details of Guy's imagined life with his wife and daughter are vivid, at times, perhaps a little too vivid. Although the structure of the book worked to show the interior workings of someone dealing with grief after a tragic loss, it was also incredibly slow. There is little action in the book and the layers of observations and details from Guy's imagined and real life build on each other and the overall effect is to make the story slow, heavy and tiring. That, combined with the whole death of a child thing, made Sea Change a very difficult read for me.
It is hard for me to recommend Sea Change. Yes, much of the writing is brilliant. But spending page after page with depression and sadness is tough to do.
Back to running posts tomorrow!
Review disclosure: I was compensated for this BlogHer Book Club review but all opinions expressed are my own.