It’s been a while since I’ve been sucked into a story that won’t let go. I blame this heavily on my hectic schedule. However, sometimes you’ll come across a book that absolutely refuses to release your attention. The Year Of Fog by Michelle Richmond did just that. The first seventy pages I read in lull moments of stirring batter and pulling cookie sheets out of the oven. Then on Christmas Eve I made a hundred pages of progress. Last night the beau watched in horror as smoke sizzled from the pages … two hundred pages down and a feeling of closure.
Life changes in an instant. On a foggy beach. In the seconds when Abby Mason—photographer, fiancée, soon-to-be-stepmother—looks into her camera and commits her greatest error. Heartbreaking, uplifting, and beautifully told, here is the riveting tale of a family torn apart, of the search for the truth behind a child’s disappearance, and of one woman’s unwavering faith in the redemptive power of love—all made startlingly fresh through Michelle Richmond’s incandescent sensitivity and extraordinary insight.
Six-year-old Emma vanished into the thick San Francisco fog. Or into the heaving Pacific. Or somewhere just beyond: to a parking lot, a stranger’s van, or a road with traffic flashing by. Devastated by guilt, haunted by her fears about becoming a stepmother, Abby refuses to believe that Emma is dead. And so she searches for clues about what happened that morning—and cannot stop the flood of memories reaching from her own childhood to illuminate that irreversible moment on the beach.
Now, as the days drag into weeks, as the police lose interest and fliers fade on telephone poles, Emma’s father finds solace in religion and scientific probability—but Abby can only wander the beaches and city streets, attempting to recover the past and the little girl she lost. With her life at a crossroads, she will leave San Francisco for a country thousands of miles away. And there, by the side of another sea, on a journey that has led her to another man and into a strange subculture of wanderers and surfers, Abby will make the most astounding discovery of all—as the truth of Emma’s disappearance unravels with stunning force.
A profoundly original novel of family, loss, and hope—of the choices we make and the choices made for us—The Year of Fog beguiles with the mysteries of time and memory even as it lays bare the deep and wondrous workings of the human heart. The result is a mesmerizing tour de force that will touch anyone who knows what it means to love a child.
Told in the first person, you live through the horrific experience with Abby. Of course I sympathized with Emma’s father, but somehow I found myself always siding with the fiancee. How horrible could it be to be responsible for another person’s child, then fail to keep that child safe?
The story starts right in the moment. You get the right amount of back story throughout the tale. Had it been the other way around, I probably would have lost interest in the first few pages. Yada-yada-yada, bad relationships, parents divorcing and significant others with children. We’ve heard these scenarios a hundred times. Richmond gets you invested in the characters right off the bat. I found myself wondering while at the stove or behind the wheel of my car, “Where the hell is Emma?”
The novel, appropriately named, does take course of a year’s time. I found myself encouraging Abby to keep up the search, even when Emma’s father had given up. I have to admit, there were even times that I thought it was time to let things go. Was Abby’s love of Emma or guilt of the disappearance fueling her to keep going?
A neat thing about this book is that it references other books within itself. Am I the only person that jots down the names of books we find when reading another?
If I could go back in time, I would have read this thrift store find a lot sooner. In the end, I found closure. Some that made me happy, some that made me sad. If you take the journey, you will learn nothing is cut and dry about a child’s disappearance. Now the question is, are you brave enough to search for Emma?
I hope so.
Next on You Bought It, You Read It: 1916: A Novel of the Irish Rebellion by Morgan Llywelyn.