Told by four women whose stories nest together, She Never Told Me About the Ocean is an
epic about a rite of passage that all humans undergo and none remember: birth.
Eighteen-year-old Sage has been mothering her mother for as long as she can remember, and
as she arrives on the shores of adulthood, she learns a secret: before she was born, she had an
older brother who drowned. In her search to discover who he was and why nobody told her,
Sage moves to tiny Dragon Island where her mother grew up. There, she embarks on a quest to
learn the superstitions of the island, especially its myths involving her mother. Gathering
stories from Ilya, a legendary midwife who hires Sage as her apprentice; Marella, Sage’s
grieving mother who was named for the ocean yet has always been afraid of it; and Charon, the
Underworld ferrywoman who delivers souls to the land of the dead, Sage learns to stop
rescuing her mother and simply let go. But when her skill as Ilya’s apprentice enables her to
rescue her mother one final time, in a way that means life or death, Sage must shed her
inherited fears and become her own woman.
This is a delightful, complex story that really secures a place in your heart from the very beginning.
Sage is an eighteen year old young woman has had a lot put upon her young shoulders. She has been looking after her mother for as long as she can remember, helping her with the basic day to day tasks that her mother is unable to fulfil herself. As Sage approaches adulthood, her life as she knows it takes a rather unexpected turn as she unearths a secret that has been buried for many years.
Before Sage was born, she had an older brother who tragically drowned, leaving her mother overcome with grief for her son. Sage is mystified as to why no-one has ever spoken of her late brother, and takes it upon herself to learn more about him. This is how she finds herself moving to Dragon Island, the place in which her mother grew up.
Whilst there, Sage begins to learn more about the superstitions that this island carries in its history, alongside those that are about her own mother. She begins talking to residents of the island, including Ilya, a well known midwife who decides to take Sage on as her apprentice, something Sage had never considered doing before. As more stories are uncovered and secrets come to light, Sage realises that now is the time to let go of those things that are out of her control, and embrace being her own person once and for all.
This is a truly captivating story that focuses on love, loss, and the bonds that intertwine families. Sage is a bright, compassionate woman who tends to put others needs before her own, resulting in her putting her life on hold to take care of her mother, who Sage doesn’t learn is grieving until further throughout the book. The setting of Dragon Island really intrigued me, and I found myself able to picture the scenes playing out vividly before my eyes thanks to the authors intricate writing style.
Each of the characters had complex lives and personalities, something that added a whole new driving force to the story as their stories played out before us. The storyline flows gracefully, from the start, and takes you on a real emotional rollercoaster as the story unfolds before us. A brilliant read I would highly recommend to others.
About the Author
Elisabeth Sharp McKetta grew up in Austin, Texas. She holds literature degrees from Harvard, Georgetown, and the University of Texas at Austin and teaches writing for the Harvard Extension School and the Oxford University Department for Continuing Education.
She is the author of eight books: We Live in Boise, Energy: The Life of John J. McKetta Jr., Fear of the Deep, Fear of the Beast, Poetry for Strangers Vols. I and II, The Creative Year: 52 Workshops for Writers, and The Fairy Tales Mammals Tell. She Never Told
Me About the Ocean is her first novel.
*Thank you to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours, Paul Dry Books and Elisabeth Sharp McKetta for providing me with a gifted copy of this book in return for my honest review. All thoughts are entirely my own and not influenced in any way.*