I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
In 1982, the oil rig Ocean Ranger sank off the coast of Newfoundland during a Valentine's Day storm. All eighty-four men aboard died. February is the story of Helen O'Mara, one of those left behind when her husband, Cal, drowns on the rig. It begins in the present-day, more than twenty-five years later, but spirals back again and again to the "February" that persists in Helen's mind and heart.
Writing at the peak of her form, her steadfast refusal to sentimentalize coupled with an almost shocking ability to render the precise details of her characters' physical and emotional worlds, Lisa Moore gives us her strongest work yet. Here is a novel about complex love and cauterizing grief, about past and present and how memory knits them together, about a fiercely close community and its universal struggles, and finally about our need to imagine a future, no matter how fragile, before we truly come home.
Lisa Moore must have lost a significant someone in her life, she writes so eloquently of grief and the process of putting one’s life back together again after a tremendous loss. In addition to that, she writes like a dream! The combination makes this an excellent book.
”Helen unlocks her front door holding an armful of groceries, and there are three empty floors and silence. It is a relief. Solitude, she thinks, is a time-release drug, it enters the system slowly and you become addicted. It’s not an addiction; it’s a craft. You open the closet doors very carefully so loneliness doesn’t pounce out.”
Moore leads the reader through jumps in time, from when Helen O’Mara had first met her husband, the births of their three children, his death in the Ocean Ranger oil rig disaster, and the hard work that the family does to overcome this tragic loss. If you’ve read about the stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, acceptance), you’ll recognize them all. Also their recurring nature, repeating on you when you least expect it.
There’s no such thing as closure, but there is such a thing as building a new life. Some days, you have to retreat to your bedroom and hide from the world and some days, like Helen in her yoga class, you can say, “I am ready for the warrior poses.”