The fish have disappeared from Big Running, Newfoundland, leaving the town deserted and the Connor family desperate. Can young Finn and Cora take matters into their own hands and bring the scattered villagers home?
Big Running has always been a small, close-knit community, dependent on the fishing industry. With resources dwindling fast, Martha and Aidan Connor hope to stave off the inevitable move off the island by sharing a job on Canada’s mainland, taking turns working and staying home with their children. Finn and Cora turn to the island itself, hoping to preserve its magic. Still carefully following the rules for checking out books from the abandoned library, Cora devours travel guides and scavenges materials to create a series of oases within the abandoned houses. Gifts for her little brother, the houses—bearing exuberant names and exclamation points borrowed from the travel guides—become Mexico! England! The Philippines! But then Cora leaves, too, and Finn concocts a fantastical plan to lure the fish (and Cora) back to the island—a plan that builds upon the tall tales told to him by his accordion teacher and requires repurposing items left behind in the abandoned homes. Hooper (Etta and Otto and Russell and James, 2015) elegantly weaves into Finn and Cora’s story the magical tale of their parents’ courtship. Martha lost her parents to the icy waters. Aidan, too, lost his father early, because, as he has been told his whole life, all Connors are cheats. Rowing out each night, he sang his grief into the wind, and his voice carried across the water to Martha, who heard the voice of a mermaid in it. Can one of their plans save the Connors’ strained marriage, find Cora, and reunite the community?
This delicate elegy for a dying way of life crescendos into a love song binding family members across the waters.