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The Shore by Sara Taylor

When this book first came out, my initial attraction to it was the beautiful cover. It’s collection of seashells seemingly quite pretty and innocent at first until you notice the bloody tooth lurking in the bottom corner which makes it suddenly even more intriguing, although I never did get round to reading it then. You shouldn’t always judge a book by its cover but in this case, the cover speaks volumes of how brilliant the story that lies within really is. 

The Shore is a collection of small islands of the Virginia coast line that has been home to generations of brave and resilient women and their families for generations. This novel is comprised of interconnecting short stories that link the generations of two families that live on the island and their stories will shock and captivate you from first to last. 

Each story is basically a chapter. The first story tells of a young girl who does her best to protect her younger sister after their mother has left and their dead-beat dad leaves them to pretty much fend for themselves. It’s not a particularly long story but the ending packs a punch and really sets the tone for the continuing tales. 

Family and relationships is a strong theme throughout the book, especially parental and children bonds, and sibling ties too. Most of the focus is on the women of the island, some of whom endure all sorts such as domestic violence, drug use and bereavement, which really gives an insight into that character and how they deal with the situation they are in. 

There are characters to love and characters to hate and all the shades in between. I loved how the familial linkage between characters runs throughout the stories and really enjoyed reading how the past affects the future. 

As well as covering a wide base of themes, the book also covers a broad spectrum of time, with stories starting in the 1800s and going right into the far future that none of us living today will ever see. The future world that Sara Taylor portrays is a bit scary and unnerving but I loved the creativity that it showed. 

Being set in one location, you get a strong sense of the place and by the end, I felt like I had been a former resident of The Shore myself, and that some of the characters who you learn so much about could have been people I know. 

Usually with short stories, I can pick an out and out favourite but with this book, with them being so closely linked and each one unique, I was thoroughly engrossed with every one and couldn’t choose one over the other as the best. 

Addictive, breath-taking and so intelligently written, The Shore is a worthy addition to the Young Writer Award 2015 shortlist and I think this may even be one of my favourite books of the year. 

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