For the first three-quarters of this international bestseller, I only liked it and planned to give it three stars. But that last quarter made the entire read worthwhile. Awarded four stars on Goodreads.
It’s a post-apocalyptic novel (not one of my favorite genres, especially having just completed 2020) where more pronounced global warming has propelled humans further down their selfish path of disregarding earth’s other species. At the start of the book, protagonist Franny Stone is a quirky young woman with strong wanderlust but little interest in living. With so many bird species already extinct, she is desperate to get aboard a fishing vessel in Greenland, hoping to follow the migratory path of the few remaining Arctic terns. Deeply damaged by her past and desperately missing her husband — Franny nevertheless feels compelled to make this journey. She finally convinces a fishing boat captain to take her along, promising him that the terns will lead them all to a bountiful catch.
As the journey progresses, readers slowly discover Franny’s own story. Her intense relationship with her mother, an absent father, a grandmother in Australia who appeared to care little for her, and the strange story of how she meets her husband Niall. There’s also the unfolding story of Franny’s relationships with the others on the fishing boat — all of whom initially resent her presence.
Over time, relationships change, secrets are revealed (including a prison sentence) and multiple deaths occur. It also turns out that following migrating terns is NOT Franny’s true reason for making this trip. And along the way, she comes to understand deep truths about herself, and learns more about the nature of love, friendship, and sacrifice. Until finally discovering that, despite many losses, there are still reasons to live.
More about the author, Charlotte McConaghy, who has, until this book, been known primarily for her SFF (Science Fiction and Fantasy) literature.