How Far is the Ocean from Here
Shaye Areheart, 2008 (2008)
Reviewed by Elizabeth Schulenburg
usannah Prue is a young, unmarried surrogate mother who, in a fit of panic, takes off just a few weeks before the baby is due. When her car breaks down, she finds herself at a rundown roadside motel, and not having a plan, decides to stay. The motel owners, Char and Marlon, and their beautiful autistic son Tim haven't had a guest in weeks and don't quite know what to make of Susannah. They are curious about her situation, but she tells them she is pregnant with her boyfriend's baby, and just wanted a vacation before she became a mom. When Dicey and her young niece Frankie arrive at the motel, the disparate group begins to feel like a mismatched family.
ulian and Kit are a wealthy power couple who need a baby to make their lives complete. When Susannah agrees to be their surrogate, they feel like they have won the lottery. Because Julian was adopted himself, he is fiercely in love with the idea of a baby of his own, the first blood relative he will ever know. Julian's strong attraction to Susannah is at first flattering, but when she begins to feel overwhelmed by the situation and flees, Julian and Kit panic, thinking they have been fooled by a scam artist. As they frantically try to track down their baby, their path merges with that of Susannah and her new friends, and everyone's lives are changed.
his novel is not for every reader. Shearn has a beautiful sense of language, but sometimes the sheer length of her sentences can seem daunting. Because much of the novel is spent inside the characters' heads, examining their thoughts and motivations, the plot can at times feel slow-going. Shearn's characters are interesting and dysfunctional, and she gives them each their own unique voice. But for the patient reader looking for a novel about discovering place in the world and finding love in unusual situations, this will be a rewarding read.
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