Title: Sea Creatures
Author: Susanna Daniel
No. of Pages: 320
Origins: Harper Books
Release Date: 30 July 2013
Bottom Line: Disquieting, haunting, and emotionally evocative
“When Georgia Qullian returns to her hometown of Miami, her toddler and husband in tow, she is hoping for a fresh start. They have left Illinois trailing scandal and disappointment in their wake, fallout from her husband’s severe sleep disorder. For months, their three-year-old son has refused to speak a word.
On a whim, Georgia takes a job as an errand runner for a reclusive artist and is surprised at how her life changes dramatically. But soon the family’s challenges return, more complicated than before. Late that summer, as a hurricane bears down on South Florida, Georgia must face the fact that her decisions have put her only child in grave danger.”
Thoughts: The best and worst thing about Sea Creatures is how utterly realistic it is. Ms. Daniels brilliantly captures the full range of emotion that comes with parenthood – the complete devotion, the frustrations, the constant worry, the fear, the love, and so much more. Georgia’s worries are every reader’s worries, so strong is the evocative language, just as her failures resonate a bit too close for comfort as they provide a stark reminder of just what can happen in spite of one’s best attempts. Every mother knows that it is impossible to protect her child from all possible ills, but that does not stop one from trying. It makes for a beautiful story, if uncomfortable at times because of its accuracy.
Sea Creatures does not just shine from the emotional depiction of parenting; it also showcases the ambiguity of real life. Ms. Daniel does not use omniscient narrators, so that a reader only knows what Georgia knows and must speculate the rest – just like in real life. It is frustrating but so effective in establishing uncertainty and suspense.
Another item of brilliance is how Ms. Daniel does not let the hurricane overshadow the drama occurring among her characters. It would be all too easy to let the hurricane become the story’s focal point. Instead, it is nothing more than the backdrop in front of which the rest of the action occurs. This deliberate lack of emphasis on a life-altering storm solidifies the character-driven action of the story and again mirrors life, as Georgia’s focus is not on the weather but rather solely on her son. When it comes to a mother’s love and worry, not even Mother Nature’s fury is a distraction.
Sea Creatures is a haunting, thought-provoking story about motherhood and marriage, the compromises we make for spouse and/or child, and the consequences of them. Ms. Daniels’ superb writing personifies every mother’s fears through Georgia’s own struggles to do right by her child while balancing her own happiness. It is an amazing story that will evoke a torrent of emotions and leave a reader breathless.