As The National Seashore's bookstore clerk, Alden Warren focuses on
stranded sea turtles and other innocents while confronting an ugly
past: the disappearance of a philandering husband two years prior.
Struggling to remain unaffected, she lusts after a married man
while desperately trying to adopt a local foster baby living the
neglected life. But everyone in town --- including the social
worker she works with to gain the child --- knows Alden's interests
are carefully chosen distractions from her husband tragedy. She
can't get a break.
Then Alden's diversions give way to a real relationship with
offbeat landscaper Lux Davis, whose wild intelligence she finds
congenially refreshing. Their intense attraction results in a
series of reckless adventures involving dumping deceased animals in
the cars of those who malign Alden: the married man who,
ultimately, can't take "no" for an answer and the social worker who
can't take "yes" (I want this child) for an answer. Unbeknownst to
Alden, Lux has his own morbid past surrounding her husband's
Lux, or "Light" --- as defined by Alden's best friend, an elderly
volunteer named Hyram (another well-chosen diversion) --- is
symbolic. Downtrodden with a neurological condition causing him to
"freeze," Lux desires Alden because she fulfills his idea of
light: love with another misfit who can accept an eccentric
disorder. Likewise, he represents her nirvana. The irony is
in their romance's backdrop, an unmerciful, stormy ocean
environment involving murder. Equally visited by inner demons
related to the husband's disappearance and childhood trauma, Lux
and Alden identify via inner and outer climates.
It is a rare writer who can mix poetry with roguish characters.
Maria Flook does this brilliantly. Her passages, even when
describing a dead turtle being belted into a car, remain ethereal.
But it is a bestselling writer who accomplishes Flook's evanescence
while prioritizing plot. Flook doesn't quite succeed. Many
scenarios are dreamlike, diverging from the story.
An exquisite writer, Flook has been commended for her sharp, Woody
Allen-like humor: In recalling one scene, a customer-weary Alden
gives a new homeowner more information than is bargained for by
telling the customer that the area's damp air causes year-round
sinus problems. Here's hoping Flook capitalizes more on such funny
Reviewed by Sara Webb Quest on January 7, 2011