The Ocean in Winter
The lives of the three Emery sisters were changed forever when Alex, eleven at the time, found their mother drowned in the bathtub of their home. After their mother’s suicide, the girls’ father shut down emotionally, leaving Alex responsible for caring for Colleen, then eight, and little Riley, just four. Now the girls are grown and navigating different directions. Alex, a nurse, has been traveling in India and grieving her struggle to have a child; Colleen is the devoted mother of preteens in denial that her marriage is ending; and Riley has been leading what her sisters imagine to be the dream life of a successful model in New York City. Decades may have passed, but the unresolved trauma of their mother’s death still looms over them, creating distance between the sisters.
Then, on a March night, a storm rages near the coast of northeastern Massachusetts. Alex sits alone in an old farmhouse she inherited from a stranger. The lights are out because of the storm; then, an unexpected knock at the door. When Alex opens it, her beautiful younger sister stands before her. Riley has long been estranged from their family, prompting Colleen to hire the private investigator from whom they’d been awaiting news. Comforted by her unexpected presence, Alex holds back her nagging questions: How had Riley found her? Wouldn’t the dirt roads have been impassable in the storm? Why did Riley insist on disappearing back into the night?
After her mysterious visitation, Alex and Colleen are determined to reconcile with Riley and to face their painful past, but the closer they come to finding their missing sister, the more they fear they’ll only be left with Riley’s secrets. An unforgettable story about grief, love, and what it means to be haunted, The Ocean in Winter marks the debut of a remarkable new voice in fiction.
Three sisters confront their past as a raging storm batters coastal Massachusetts in de Veer's tense debut. The Emery sisters, whose mother died by suicide while they were children, face crises that evoke painful memories. Alex, the oldest sister, learns she cannot have children and travels to India, yearning to escape responsibilities after years of taking on the mother role. But she cuts short her adventure after discovering she's inherited a house from a near-stranger in Massachusetts. Colleen, the middle sister, finds her perfect suburban life upended when her husband asks for a separation and, shortly thereafter, her house is badly damaged by a fire. Riley, the youngest and wildest sister, struggles with drug addiction and has become estranged from her sisters as her glamorous modeling career is ending. In her inherited home, which is near Colleen's, Alex is waiting out the storm that spans the bulk of the story's present plot when Riley suddenly appears at the door only to disappear as abruptly as she arrived. When it becomes clear Riley is suffering from depression and might be a risk to herself, the sisters must sort through the past to help Riley. De Veer imbues this family drama with the mysteriousness of a ghost story and the pacing of a thriller. What drove their mother to suicide? Will the sisters ever relinquish the roles her death forced on them? This rousing family drama effectively captures the emotional turbulence of overcoming trauma.
Tough to put down.
I read until past my bed time two nights in a row because this book was so tough to put down. It was everything other reviewers said it was; both heart warming, and heartbreaking. I enjoyed it.
Engrossing, relatable, uplifting.
Could not put this book down and cannot recommend it enough! How long do we have to wait for the movie to be made!?!?
Cannot make myself wade through. 22% read.
Might be ok to induce sleep