*** About the Book ***
In 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 ...