Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Stories We Tell, The Stories We Need To Know

"I can still call to mind the precise shade of the water that day. I call it summer blue, the color of water in July--all of promise wrapped up in it, and every disappointment too."

We all have inherited family stories. We believe they are true. The Color of Water in July by Nora Carroll portrays a woman who determines to dismantle the stories, finding that the truth allows her to become the person she wanted to be.

Thirty-three year old Jess's grandmother has died and the family cabin on Traverse Bay in northern Michigan is to be sold. Jess returns to the cabin for the first time since she was seventeen years old. At first Jess is uninterested in the history and family heirlooms and papers. She is encouraged to sell it by her boyfriend Russ, a writer for Architect's Digest. He sees a story. He sees the money. The cabin will become a cover story, remodeled, and sold.

Jess feels haunted by the events of her last summer with her grandmother, the year when she fell in love and believed her future was set. Before events escalated and she decided to leave the man she loved behind.

Alternating chapters tell the story of Jess's grandmother, the sister she lost, and the baby she raised who became Jess's distant mother, a Pulitzer prize winning journalist. Layers of the story are gradually stripped away, revealing a reality Jess had never imagined.
"I need to be sure that you really want to know.""That's what I came here for, said Jess."
Jess must decide what really matters and how to hold on to it.

The book has mystery, surprises, and lots of local color. The epilogue ending was somewhat tacked on and not necessary; I think we all realize what was coming. I enjoyed some fine lines, such as, "It had turned to August now, you could feel it right away, the lack of sincerely of summer, the hint that it was already planning to leave." I have not lived as far north as Traverse City, but I have lived down the Lake Michigan coast and know how true this feeling it.

It is mid-August as I write this. The last weekend for tourists and the cabin summer folk is soon coming. After Labor Day the "Trolls" leave but the townies remain year round. Resort areas start closing up shops by the end of September, not to reopen until Memorial Day. The color of the water will change to gray and white, the calm water whipped up to high sprays. If you go near the beach the sand in the wind will get into your nose and hair, scratch your glasses. You will feel the grit in your mouth. Summers Up North are short.

I thank the publisher and NetGalley for a free ebook in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

The Color of Water in July
by Nora Carroll
Lake Union Publishing
Publication Date: August 18, 2015
ISBN: 9781503945630
$14.95 paperback

The color of water on Pentwater Lake in July
Pentwater Lake in early winter


Lake Michigan in July