Each Little Sister book feels like coming home. Even though the only things I have in common with this island and its people are the sea and the wind, I feel like I know them. Like we share a lot more than words and descriptions. That’s something that always surprises me, whenever I read one of Caren Werlinger’s stories, how much she manages to make me care for people who are so different from who I am. I mean, she made me care for nuns! Twice. In this series, it’s life on an island in New England, at times cut from the rest of the world. My anxiety would make it challenging but the introvert in me loves the idea at the same time as I wonder if I could deal with everyone knowing everything all the time.
In each book, former secondary characters take centre stage and new ones appear, opening new doors to new stories, new avenues to explore. In The New Shore, Kathleen has to deal with family in two completely unexpected twists, Meredith gets ready to become the new island teacher, Rebecca reconnects with the love of her life, leading her to question the choices she made decades ago. Life goes on around them and the island keeps breathing its magic through it all.
This book, even more than the previous ones, reads as much like a novel as a chronicle of life on an island. Everyday preoccupations matter as much as extraordinary events, contributing to the atmosphere of warmth and belonging, including the reader in the world, in the community Werlinger created. The islanders are my people. Even though I don’t know them in real life, even though they don’t exist in any other way than as words. I want to shop at Miranda and Tim’s market and taste their greenhouse tomatoes, I want to feel the wind on my face while watching Molly row, I want to see Blossom jump in the snow, I want to try Nels’ pub food and Miss Louisa and Miss Olivia’s orange cranberry bread (thank you for the recipe!), I want to roll my eyes at tourists’ shenanigans, even though I kind of already do that where I live, despite the fact that I was one of them a few years ago. Little Sister is the first name that comes to me every time someone asks about a fictional place I would like to visit.
If the series stopped here, as a trilogy, I’d already feel satisfied, the existing books are so rich. I do hope, however, that there will be more.
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