August 19 – 25, 2022Vol. 24, No. 11

Landslide: A Novel by Susan Conley

by Martha F. Barkley

The afternoon had the yellow, glassy light that we get in late August in Maine, and the heat felt loose around my body so it was still possible to pretend summer wouldn’t be overshadowed by fall.

If teens are in your family, you may find the constant tension with parents a release somehow in reading this novel by a Maine native who works in Portland at the Stonecoast Writing Program where she founded the Telling Room for youth.

I kept reading because island life interests me, and the hospital care in Canada after a fishing boat explosion kept me wondering whether the patient would survive and return to his family back on the island in Maine.

Everyone knows everyone in the village. This isn’t meant to sound sentimental. Everyone knows where you’re going in your boat, and how your daughter did in the middle-school play, and if your marriage is off the rails.

Maybe that sounds too familiar? How about, “We’re running out of good places in America…Montana. Ruined. Too many people. Idaho ruined too. California and Seattle. Done. But I still get energy in Maine…”

Now that grabbed me, because energy sounds good to me, dear reader.

The wife and her two sons crossed the border from Maine to Canada to visit their dad/husband. Separation for months is painful for all. Conversation strained. Reality of infection still present weeks later.

In the sweet, early years on the island, the town hadn’t laid underwater cable yet, and we had no electricity. We used kerosene lamps and made clearings for the gardens and built the woodpile up and fixed the house…We weren’t worried about rising ocean levels or warming water. There were fish, and there was none of the anxiety I have now or shame that I’m not doing enough to help stop the warming…

I had to laugh when I read that the mother attempted text language out loud with another adult trying to be up to date, I guess: LOL and AKT. Who talks this way?

Colby College loaned me this new 2021 title through our Belgrade Public Library inter-library loan. Belgrade Library Director Jared made this happen for me. Support our local library and keep returning books in the outside book deposit for processing. Our monthly book group enjoys meeting in the cool air conditioning and Barbara’s Zoom screen keeps others participating, too. Join the eager readers! See you at the library.

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