A marine biologist who suffered a grievous loss when she was in her 20s debuts with a wrenching account of that loss, her ensuing suffering, and her attempts to regain a sense of purpose.
Be prepared to encounter time for what it really is inside our minds, an out-of-balance mixture of tenses that makes clocks, calendars, and language itself seem inadequate. In August 2002, Fowler (from California) and her fiance, Sean (an Australian), were in Thailand, where he died almost immediately after being stung by a box jellyfish in the surf. The author’s world collapsed. The two appeared to have been created for each other, sharing a love of travel to remote places all over the world, a sense of humor, and much more. Fowler recounts their travels that August and the following months, and she takes us back earlier in their relationship and to her girlhood, when she first fell in love with the ocean. The narrative is segmented, with chapters that leap about in time, resembling the actions of a mind and heart in distress. Throughout, the author deals frankly with all aspects of her experience: the body of her lover, her fears of being assaulted as she traveled alone around Eastern Europe afterward, Sean’s family basically cutting her off later on. Fowler also shares the story of the devotion—there is no other word—conferred upon her by two young Israeli women whom she didn’t initially know but who stuck with her in Thailand and beyond. They would not let her suffer and cope alone with all the bureaucratic hassle. She also periodically inserts brief news accounts of quite a few others who died in similar fashion in the same vicinity and wonders why there are not posted beach warnings.
A courageous and finely crafted account soaked in tears of love and loss.