The Seas
Samantha Hunt
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The Seas

Samantha Hunt
208 pages
December 2005
rated 4 of 5 possible stars
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Click here to read reviewer Janelle Martin's take on The Seas.

On the third floor of the weathered house, where she can see the stars from the window above, a child slept in the bathtub, her ear pressed to the drainpipe to hear her parents whispering at night. Then one night, her father said, "I remember how the moon shines into the ocean and the pattern it makes on the sea floor" and her mother began to cry. She had never heard her mother cry before. Soon after, her father disappeared into the sea.

Although she is a young woman, the daughter has never forgotten how her father said she was a mermaid, a gift from the sea. So begins the sad vigil of the young woman whose father walked into the sea never to return, leaving behind a longing wife and daughter who must try to find a way through the empty years that lie ahead. The wife will never leave their small, dilapidated home near an often cold and indifferent ocean, but as the years pass, the daughter thinks perhaps leaving might buy her freedom.

The young woman never fits into her own life, finding few friends. Many make fun of the shabby house they live in, filled with junk and the detritus that others discard. Yet the girl is as tied to the ocean as the rest of her family. Struggling to emerge from her mermaid fantasy into a more functional reality, the young woman is beset on all sides by the presence of the sea, offering her imprisonment or release.

Instead, the young woman seizes upon Jude, a stranger who steps from the waves, whom she believes for a moment is her father returned. Jude is damaged goods, a discharged soldier recently returned from Iraq with vivid memories of death and a penchant for self-destruction. The nineteen-year old girl is hopelessly attracted to the older man, who reeks of tobacco and alcohol. She longs for him to touch her. Propelled into her own future, the girl is at a critical impasse, brought about by her intense need for Jude to be all things - lover, father, savior, failure.

The author creates remarkable images, skillfully manipulating words to expand the imagination and the senses, such as the transmogrified sounds of the deaf world, the inner workings of a lonely woman's heart and the promise of hope skimming along the horizon. Hunt spills phrases like breadcrumbs through the forest. Impossible not to follow, these fairytale musings mix with life and the power of an incandescent sea. This novel is visually stimulating and profoundly satisfying, with insight into the deepest, most secret chambers of the human heart.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at Luan Gaines, 2004

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