Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Year of Fog



The book starts out with a walk on the beach in the San Francisco area on typically patchy,foggy day.  Abby, a professional photographer, and her soon to be step daughter, Emma, are out for an excursion.  While beachcombing for sand dollars, that day, Abby averts her eyes from Emma, up ahead, to take a picture of a dead seal that has washed up.  When she looks up again Emma is no longer in sight only the thick fog up ahead.  Thus begins the book.

We journey with Abby as she carries on the search for Emma trying to recall every minute detail, dealing with the guilt of losing her fiance's daughter, while in her care, and the now strained relationship with her fiance.

The book pulled me in as it carried me through the endless searching, long after the police had closed the books on it.  Abby and Jake don't give up so easily.  They continue searching separately while they themselves drift apart.

There were many times, as I read, that I felt as if Abby was a lot like me, had I been in a similar situation.  I willed for Abby to remember those infinitesimal details as she developed, printed, enlarged and inspected over and over again, the photographs taken on the beach that day.  I think I would have read and done the same research about memory as she did. I think I would have had the same thoughts about time. I think I would have gone through the same feelings of regret, frustration,and introspection while trying to make sense of the ordeal. The blessings of going through something like this in the safety of a fictional book.

The reading becomes slow at times and a drudge to get through but I felt I had to finish the book (not always a commitment I feel to books). Could it be that is what the author was looking for?  To give the reader a sense of the struggle and repetitive pounding of the pavement, so to speak, that one would go through in a situation such as this?

I was somewhat disappointed with the way Emma is found.  It felt a little false to me even with the book's basis being a true story.  Having said that,since finishing the book several weeks ago I am still haunted by it.  Again, could this be the author's ploy?  I would like to know if Abby ever gets to see Emma again.  I wonder if Jake ever realizes that Abby, not Emma's mother, truly loves Emma and should not be blamed as harshly as she is.  I wonder how Abby moves on. That I suppose is the truth of the book: real life is unpredictable.
It was also a little eerie that I had been in San Francisco a few months prior to reading this book.  I was captivated by the fog while there 
and also one of our beach excursions resulted in my stopping to inspect and photograph a dead seal that had washed up.  

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