Two If by Sea
From Jacquelyn Mitchard, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Deep End of the Ocean, the “suspenseful, otherwordly, and nearly impossible to put down” (People) story about an unlikely hero whose life is transformed when he rescues a boy with an extraordinary gift.
Just hours after his wife and her entire family perish in the Christmas Eve tsunami, former police officer Frank Mercy pulls a little boy from a submerged car. Not quite knowing why, Frank doesn’t turn Ian over to the Red Cross. Instead he makes up a story about where the boy came from and takes him home, where Frank realizes that Ian has an otherworldly gift—an extraordinary ability to transform lives beyond anything he’d ever imagined. Awed and confused, Frank confesses Ian’s secret to Claudia, a beautiful champion rider who is training for the Olympics. They join together to fight the sinister forces gathering to take Ian back. In a final confrontation, Frank and Claudia will risk everything—their love, their family, their very lives—to save this boy they now love as their own son.
Mitchard's (The Deep End of the Ocean) latest combines elements of science fiction and suspense with a heartfelt meditation on family and grief, to mixed results. When a tsunami devastates the Australian coast, Frank Mercy loses his pregnant wife and her entire extended family in the span of a few moments. Bottling up his grief, he reports for duty as a first responder and pulls a three-year-old boy named Ian from a half-submerged van. Frank feels strangely compelled to take him under his wing, and the pair flee Brisbane for Frank's family's horse farm in Wisconsin. It's soon apparent that Ian is special: he can speak to animals in a way that calms even the most skittish horses, and he can convince people to do whatever he wants (which, since he's three, generally means buying him sweets and toys). As Frank and Ian's bond becomes stronger, both begin to heal, but just as they become comfortable, figures from Ian's past catch up to him, and his mysterious origins become clearer, as does the danger he's in. Mitchard's usual strong characters and emotionally resonant prose are evident here, but a few predictable twists and a shoehorned-in love interest drag things down. This won't grab new readers, and longtime fans may feel frustrated by the change of style and pace.