Friday, September 30, 2016

The Light Between Oceans by M.L.Stedman - Book Review - Favorite Books of 2016

"He smiled that Frank smile. "Oh, but my treasure, it is so much less exhausting. You only have to forgive once. To resent, you have to do it all day, ever day...we always have a choice. All of us" - The Light Between Oceans"
I just finished reading "The Light Between Oceans" by M.L. Stedman and omgitwassogood. I am so excited to be share this book with you, and my thoughts! I feel like I am the last person on Earth who hasn't read this book - but if you haven't read it, stop reading this review and head to your local library or bookstore and pick up a copy. It is that good! I initially read this book because I was so intrigued by the grey moral decisions that this book explores....

And I was delighted to find that not only does it explore the topics I expected, it did that and so much more! This book asks you to examine insanely difficult situations,  ones that leave you not only questioning the characters, but also yourself.

The basic plot of "The Light Between Oceans" is this - a man, Tom, and his wife, Isabel, live on an island off of the coast of Australia where Tom works as a light house keeper. The couple are struggling to have a child. Isabel has had numerous miscarriages, one in the last several weeks at a very late term - when they find a man, who is dead, and a baby, who is alive. And what do they do from there? Tom wants to alert everyone to the situation, but Isabel asks that he let the baby stay for a day, and then that day turns to two etc. And while it is obvious that Isabel and Tom should have reported the baby to the authorities and returned her to her mother- the situation becomes more and more complicated over the years, and as a reader the grey moral decisions that the author explores become more and more intriguingly difficult to decipher.

What I Liked About The Book

I honestly don't even know where to start with this!

The writing and the emotions of this story are so genuine and raw - and that is probably my favorite thing about this book. I don't usually cry reading books, or in general about things that aren't "real". But, this book got me to cry, more than once! There were just so many gut wrenching moments - and not just for the sake of being gut wrenching, either. And I think that is in part because this story just felt very real as I was reading it - the situations, characters, and decisions are genuine. I loved getting to know the characters- and after a while I felt like I knew what the characters were going to do. And while in some books that predictability is frustrating, it didn't ruin the suspense or the emotions for me in "The Light Between Oceans", it just made them that much more real! I could hardly turn the page knowing what was about to happen!

Not only did the emotions feel very real- they are also constantly shifting- this book is truly an emotional roller coaster. The narration shifts to many different characters throughout the book so that you explore the emotions and motivations. And then just when you think you know whose side you are on or how you feel about a situation in the book - the emotions shift and you felt conflicted again. How awesome is that?!

M.L. Stedman is ridiculously talented. And along the ride that is this novel you are treated to some of the best writing I have had the pleasure of enjoying in a while. I tabbed this book up like crazy! There are so many great quotes and moments that I want to keep with me long after this book is back on the library shelf. One of my absolute favorites is from fairly early in the book when Tom is reflecting on his time fighting in World War I -

"He tries not to dwell on it: he's seen plenty of men turned worse than useless that way. So he gets on with life around the edges of this thing he's got no name for. When he dreams about those years, the Tom who is experiencing them, the Tom who is there with blood on his hands, is a boy of eight or so. It's this small boy who's up against blokes with guns and bayonets, and he's worried because his school socks have slipped down and he can't hitch them up because he'll have to drop his gun to do it, and he's barely big enough even to hold that. And he can't find his mother anywhere."- The Light Between Oceans


What I Didn't Like

Nothing - that the book ended, I guess? That M.L. Stedman hasn't written another book, yet? That terrible feeling after you finish a really, really, really good book and know that nothing you read may ever measure up to this book, so you wonder if you should even pick up another book because what is the point, and then you try reading another book and ugh, you were exactly right- it doesn't measure up. And the downward spiral proceeds...

 I absolutely loved "The Light Between Oceans" and highly recommend it and give it all of the stars ever. Have you read it? Let me know what you thought below! Thinking about picking up this book - click the link to the left to find a copy at your local library or click the link below to view the book on Amazon through my affiliate link.


  1. I definitely have to check this book out! It sounds great. Thanks for sharing your review!

  2. I read this one for my book club a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, my experience with the book was not as positive as yours. It was only a 3½ star read for me, and our book club average was only 3 stars. I think for us, it was more to do with the end, and how Tom ended up paying the consequences for choices he'd didn't freely make.
    I'm glad you enjoyed it, though!

    1. Hi Kim! I was mad about the consequences that Tom suffered as well- in fact the whole ending was more of a surprise than I expected. It was't fair, and I guess I'm just a romantic- but I was so moved by Tom's sacrifice! But those differences in opinions on a book happen all of the time, of course : ) I gave two stars to a book that i finished today, hopped on Goodreads and the majority of people had given it four! Craziness! Thanks for commenting!

  3. I just picked up a copy of this book a few weeks ago. It has been recommended to me several times, and now with the movie out I definitely have to read it! Great review!

    1. I *loved* it Brandie. And I hope you do too! Let me know what you thought of it when you finish!


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