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Monday, October 25, 2010

Bluff Island Rescue Service

by Stephanie Hubbard
346 pages

*** About the Book ***

Bluff Island Rescue Service: a memoirIn this memoir Stephanie Hubbard shares her experiences growing up in a volatile household and spending summers on an isolated island.  Stephanie's father, whom she loved dearly, was an alcoholic who physically and verbally abused her mother.  Her mother was completely devoted to him despite this, and fought tooth and nail (literally) to keep his attention.  Bluff Island was the family's summer refuge, the only place her father felt at home in the world.  Stephanie treasured her time there, especially the days spent with her father, even though she wasn't allowed to associate with anyone else on the tiny island.

This strange and troubled childhood followed Stephanie as she grew up.  She spent a large portion of her young adult life traveling in her father's footsteps, competing with his new wife for his attention, and trying desperately to make him proud of her.  A serious car accident finally pushes her to change her lifestyle, but it isn't easy to let go of her past and start anew.

*** Why I Read It ***

I received an email pitch for this book from a publicist.  It's rare that I agree to review a book based on an email but something about this one caught my attention.  I think it was the fact that the book was compared to The Glass Castle (my review here), and also the idea of living on an isolated island and having that influence your life. 

*** My Thoughts ***

Generally when I agree to review a book I give myself several months to pick it up, since I always have a list of books just waiting to be read.  When this one arrived in the mail and I opened the package I couldn't bear to set it on the shelf.  I left it sitting on the coffee table, my eyes continually going back to the cover.  I don't know what it was about the cover but I really wanted to pick this book up and start reading.  So, after just a few days of waiting, I did.

And I blew right through it, finishing in less than three days.

This book is very readable and moves quickly.  I don't want to say that I "enjoyed" reading about Stephanie's life, because much of it was heartbreaking and traumatic.  But it was a fascinating story all the same, and I did enjoy reading the book.  Stephanie writes in a straightforward, unapologetic manner that let me feel a lot of the emotions she was feeling at a particular time. 

I have to mention one scene because it has stuck with me in the weeks since I finished the book.  There is a time, early in the book, when Stephanie's father is yelling at her mother for something and Stephanie has to decide who to side with in the argument.  She chooses her father even though she detests his behavior.  Looking back on it as an adult, she realizes that this was the moment when she chose to live her father's life rather than her mother's.  This part broke my heart, but it also set the tone for the rest of Stephanie's story.

As I said above, the pitch I received for this book compared it to The Glass Castle.  I can't say that it was quite as good of a book as that one, but I do think that if you like The Glass Castle then you will like Bluff Island Rescue Service as well - I certainly did.

*** Your Thoughts ***

Has anyone else heard of this book?  I haven't seen reviews of it on any of the blogs yet - did I miss yours?  Is this the kind of book you like to read? Also, what do you think of the cover?  There's something about it (combined with the book's summary) that really pulled me in ...


Trish said...

Sounds like a good book! I love memoirs like this (and The Glass Castle, House Rules, Wolf at the Table, etc) because it is just so amazing to witness how resilient children can be, to go through such things and still grow up to be fairly normal functioning adults.

Erin said...

I haven't heard of this one! The cover is interesting. I couldn't really guess what it was about, until I read your summary. I did enjoy The Glass Castle, so maybe I'll look into Bluff Island Rescue Service!

Heather J. said...

Trish - This isn't usually my genre of choice but I enjoyed this book - it was heartbreaking but still hopeful.

Erin - The cover makes complete sense once you read the book - it is exactly the right fit.

Stephanie Hubbard said...

Hey there Heather - thanks for your kind words regarding the book. If readers want to get the book, they can order a signed copy at

It's interesting to compare it to Glass Castle - I think that they are similar in that "OMG what happens next sort of way..." One thing that I think is really different between the two: is that I track the consequences of growing up in a "challenging" household into adulthood where as Glass Castle pretty much ends when she leaves her parents house hold. But I liked Glass Castle very much myyself.

Oh, and FYI - I designed the cover, and Heather, that is the actual shirt, and the actual island! Also I have cute new shirts in 70's style light cotton made up for folks to wear in the same design - which have been fun. They are on the web site too. I hope to continue the discussion! Best, Stephanie Hubbard

Heather J. said...

Stephanie - Thank you so much for coming by to comment - I really did enjoy your book. I'm glad you point out that the story follows you into adulthood. That is, in fact, one of the things I most liked about the book; I felt like I was able to see how your childhood influenced the rest of your life, and also how you overcame it.

I do hope people will check out your website and read the book for themselves - and maybe order a shirt too! (I love that idea by the way - and I really do love the cover. Great job on that!)

Thanks again, and I wish you much success both with the book and in life in general.

Stephanie Hubbard said...

Thanks Heather!!!


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