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5 Minutes for books managing editor Jennifer Donovan received a copy of this book to facilitate her review, but as always, her opinions are her own.
Family drama — we all have it, right? I often think that my family’s trials and tribulations, skeletons and challenges are unique, but the more I talk to people, the more I see that they are not. Reading a novel such as this one makes my family seem practically plain vanilla.
When Grace’s mother dies, she tries to put together the funeral based on a note she finds: “Flowers. By the water. Have fun!” Planning a funeral is difficult enough, but when it occurs on the 20th anniversary of the tragic car accident that altered the lives of every member of their family in some way, it makes it even more difficult.
Joy, the oldest, lost her best friend Bonnie in the accident. Her brother Roger served time and is still drowning his sorrows all these years later. His twin sister Tamar seems to almost have lost the ability to feel anything.
The Little siblings meet up on the Maine island to pay their respects and support their mother, Grace. Even though they are all adults, their childhood personalities come out. They bicker some, they cast blame, they nurse resentments, and they all seem to feel misunderstood in some way.
In addition to the past, they are all dealing with their own issues from the present, which intensifies the emotion. Tamar has brought her eight-year-old twin girls along without her husband, who is the primary caretaker, and she’s nervous about the responsibility. Roger is contemplating moving back to the island and helping his parents run the inn, but worries if they even want him to. Joy is taking her only son’s recent departure to college hard.
Little Island by Katharine Britton felt so real and warm and comfortable, and also somewhat magical, as life on a small island seems to feel all the time. There’s laughter and fighting, running away and a rescue. Each of the characters grew, which makes this kind of read satisfying to me.
I enjoy these kinds of books, because as I said, it makes my family and my own baggage seem normal, but also because it reminds me that people can always change.
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