LIFESAVING LESSONS by Linda Greenlaw

LIFESAVING LESSONS

Notes from an Accidental Mother

KIRKUS REVIEW

America’s only female swordfish-boat captain returns with a straightforward account of the challenges she faced in becoming the legal guardian of a sexually abused teenager and in balancing unexpected motherhood with her reclusive lifestyle on a tiny island off the coast of Maine.

A resident of Isle au Haut, whose population at the time numbered less than 50 in the off-season, Greenlaw (Seaworthy, 2010, etc.) and her community were disturbed to realize they did not live in a “[p]ristine” place. Upon learning that a pedophile resided among them, they rallied to aid Mariah, a 15-year-old who had moved to the island with her stepfather’s alcoholic brother, “Uncle” Ken. Greenlaw charts the course of her earlier choice to live a childless life through events that led to Mariah’s rescue, Ken’s arrest, trial and conviction, and its aftermath. The author’s no-nonsense approach to daily life led to honest admissions of selfishness and her desire for solitude, but she gradually warmed to the realization that guardianship involved more than providing material needs and security. Secondary themes of sisterhood and of developing female friendships later in life add depth to a work that otherwise explores a sensitive topic in familiar ways—from initial outrage to healing, wariness to acceptance, and an adolescent's tumultuous beginnings to high school graduation and acceptance to college. Though descriptions of emotions occasionally step into cliché, Greenlaw is at her finest when drawing parallels between life at sea and her new role as a mother.

A competent work intended to encourage others in similar situations, but will appeal most to fans of Greenlaw's previous Isle au Haut installment, The Lobster Chronicles.

Pub Date: March 21st, 2012
ISBN: 978-0670025176
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2013




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