Finished January 4
Marrow Island by Alexis M. Smith
I enjoyed the previous book I read by this author, Glaciers, and so picked this up when I saw it on the shelf at the library.
The main character here is Lucie Bowen. Lucie is a journalist and as the book begins, returns to the house she grew up in on Orwell Island off the coast of Seattle. This is the first time she has been back since fleeing the island after a devastating earthquake when she was just twelve years old.
Her mother managed to hold on to and repair the cottage they lived in, and has now transferred ownership over to her. Lucie's childhood friend Katie, whom she lost touch with after the tragedy, has recently sent her a letter, letting Lucie know that she is working with a small group of people on a nearby island, Marrow Island. Marrow Island was the center of a second tragedy, caused by the earthquake, of a fire and environmental disaster at an oil refinery. The island was contaminated and all residents were evacuated and not allowed to return. Many of those on Marrow Island at the time died and some bodies were never recovered, among them Lucie's father.
It is hard for Lucie to go back, but at Katie's invitation to see how the colony works, she goes over for a couple of days, as does a parks officer who is looking at the state of the government park on the island to see if work can be done to reopen it.
As we see Lucie learn about the colony that Katie lives with and meet other members, we see her question her observations. She is, after all, a journalist, despite the personal ties she has to the location and people there.
This story alternates with a later narrative, also by Lucie, more than 18 months after this visit to Marrow. We gradually learn something bad happened, and Lucie is now living with her boyfriend, a parks officer, in a remote forest cabin on the mainland. She spends her days wandering the woods, writing, and generally avoiding facing what happened. When something happens to call her back to those events and then a fire threatens her new sanctuary, Lucie responds.
This is a moving book, The reader really gets inside Lucie's head, seeing things as she sees them, but unsure of what importance to place on them.