Shaped By The Waves

I read fiction for enjoyment. But I don’t mind if it makes me think a little. 

You’ve heard me, on occasion, discuss the flaws of the romance novels, which I occasionally review here. While I am not a fan of the romance genre, I am a sucker for a good story. 

Which most romances aren’t. They tend to stick to a formula and are so predictable that by the second page I have already figured out all the plot twists and written the ending.

By those definitions Shaped By The Waves isn’t a romance. In this novel from Christina Suzann Nelson the love story is secondary, or maybe even tertiary, almost forgotten as you weave through the intricately constructed plot. 

Cassie, the single mother of a lively four-year-old daughter, is faced with a choice. Continue working on her doctorate, or return to the small Oregon town she left years ago to care for the dying aunt who raised her. All while taking over management of the cafe her aunt owns. Cassie already knows being a parent is a tough job. She never realized how much more difficult it could get until she added the role of caregiver to a dementia patient.  At least her aunt has friends who gather around to share the burden – if Cassie will let them.

Which is easier to say than to do. Cassie feels obligated to take on the task, and in some way through this to atone for past mistakes. She struggles gamely onward, always second-guessing her choices. 

Being back home on home turf there is the sense of familiar mixed in with the new challenges. Maybe she belongs here, and not graduate school. What does the future hold?

Before she can answer that question, the past comes calling. She receives installments of what appears to be the life storey of the mother she never knew. The names are wrong, the places are wrong, but somehow Cassie feels this is her story. An extremely unsettling one.

Just as she was beginning to feel rooted, Cassie finds herself adrift as she confronts her origin issues. Where are these story chapters coming from? Is her mother, supposedly long dead, Still alive? Does the story have soemthibng to do with the mysterious woman who frequents the cafe but never interacts with anyone?

At the same time, across town, her high school rival has her own feelings of insecurity with Cassie back in town. Like Cassie, she seems overwhelmed by motherhood. She is worried her husband might rekindle his old interest in Cassie. What is more, she has her own origin issues as well. Are the two women actually related?

With so much going on, it is no wonder the love story is in the background. Anyone who has ever dealt with care for an aging relative knows how much it saps your energy. There’s not much time for anything else. Suffice it to say that boy meets girl.

Christina Suzann Nelson has crated an intricate story of people who seem real, who are relatable in their strengths and insecurities. I think that is why I enjoyed reading this novel so much: everyone seems to be barely keeping their head above water as they tread the sea of events life throws at them. Doesn’t it seem like that is all anyone is doing these days in our lives?

For me perhaps the central question when reading a book is whether I enjoyed it enough to read another book by the same author. With Shaped By The Waves the answer is a resounding yes. I hadn’t heard of Christina Suzann Nelson before, haven’t read her first two novels. But they will be on my summer reading list.

“Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications Inc.

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