Rating: 4 Stars (Read it and then share it with a friend!)
I recently entered a drawing for a book called Ashmore Grief by D. A. Cairns on goodreads. I honestly can’t remember how it ended up on my radar, but it made it onto my goodreads list, and so it needed to be read. I “won” the drawing, but the smashwords discount code didn’t work for me. I emailed the author to let him know that it didn’t work, and then I bought the book the old-fashioned way. Being unable to remember why it made my list and remembering absolutely nothing about the book, I went into the reading experience as blind as any new reader could be. I enjoyed the story, and I think you you should read it and share it with your friends.
The first chapter of the book was a little technical with lots of boat-speak, but by the time I made it through the second chapter, I couldn’t read it fast enough. The author does a wonderful of explaining the details of each scene, and even though there were two main characters with names that started with the same letter (a well-known “don’t” to avoid confusing your reader), I was never confused about who I was reading about when discussing Mark and Matt. In fact, there was only one spot toward the end of the book that made me wonder if it was self-edited or professionally edited. I was easily able to discern what the author meant, and only made a brief note to let the author know that it was a little unclear.
This story deals with some really serious topics– immigration, sexual exploitation of very young women, politics, assassination, and so forth, and it happens to take place a few years in the future in Australia (one of the places I would love to visit one day). Despite all of the serious topics, it’s a feel good story. The author handled the story with tact, and I never felt like it needed a trigger warning, even though it could have easily crossed the line from serious to traumatic. I was surprised with how the story lines wound together, and I was reminded of George R. R. Martin’s talent at making me feel ashamed of the characters I love and pity for the characters I hate.
I loved the story–when I wasn’t reading it, I was constantly thinking about it. I read it on my Kindle, and I was glad for the “dictionary feature” because I didn’t know a few of the words. It wasn’t a difficult read though– just a man with a better vocabulary than me using words that concisely conveyed his intent for the scene.
I related to one specific part of the story a lot– where the woman needs to discuss something, and the man can’t sort his emotions out to explain it. He just wants to let the topic sit until it fades into insignificance without dealing with it directly. She pushes, and it all goes south for a while. Finding myself in love with a man who finds the option of letting things fade away until they are inconsequential, several parts of that scene hit home for me. It brought up old arguments and hurts, but I found empathy, too, for the man in the story who wanted to tread so carefully on a big topic that he couldn’t face it head on.
On the topic of immigration, especially illegal immigration, I find that a lot of people in my circle respond with a callous attitude. It’s not our problem. Send them back to their own country. You’ve probably heard the news and can come up with better examples than mine. This book was obviously well-researched before it was written, and I think it helps us remember that the people we label as “illegals” are actually people. The story fully acknowledges that illegal immigration is a problem, but the answer isn’t to cold-heartedly refuse people who are desperate. The story really demonstrates the struggles faced by the immigrants who know they have given up everything for a long-shot and even better (I think) the conflict felt by the military soldiers and police officers who do border patrol.