Sea Changes by Gail Graham was a good read for me. It’s hard to categorize this novel as any one theme as there were many: grief, healing, fantasy, mystery, and hope. It’s an emotional journey through one woman’s battle to survive the grief and loneliness she’s left with when her husband dies.
Sarah’s husband Charles dies unexpectedly and Sarah is devastated and lost. Charles was her everything; so much so that she put him before their children. Consequently her marriage was wonderful but her relationships with her children Felicity and Sean are just good, but not great. Sarah is really wandering aimlessly through her life, really just going through the motions. Her daughter Felicity especially feels that it’s time for Sarah to move on and start life again, maybe even marry; it has been two years after all.
Finally Sarah, exhausted with trying to pretend everything is ok, decides to take her own life. She heads down to the beach and swims out into the ocean. She’ll just swim until she’s tired and then let go. She wants it to appear an accident, not a suicide so her kids will be able to collect the insurance money. All of a sudden though there is this young girl, Bantryd and she wants Sarah to follow her. Bantryd leads Sarah to an underwater world and explains to her that she’s a vestigant-a person who can move from life on land to life in the water. Sarah is drawn to this world and especially to Xaxanader who appears to be the leader. However she is overwhelmed and scared and wants to go home so Xaxanader leads her back to the beach. He wants her to want to come to the underwater world willingly.
Sarah returns home and she’s sure it was all just a dream, but was it? It couldn’t have been, it just seemed so real. Finally she decides to try again. Either she’ll drown or she’ll find this underwater world again. On this second visit, Sarah is asked to bring back Bantryd who is trying to find her parents. This proves to cause all kinds of problems because Bantryd looks a lot like an hieress who has gone missing. Sarah ends up embroiled in a mess of trouble as everything seems to be pointing to her as the one who has kidnapped the heiress.
This novel takes place in Australia and it was interesting to read the differences in the cultures. I also really enjoyed the concept of parallel worlds. This one we live on land and maybe an underwater one at sea. It makes you stop and think that really anything is possible. I spent a lot of the book wondering if in the end Sarah would wake up and we would find it had all just been a dream but you’ll have to read for yourself to see if that actually happens. There could in fact be other worlds out there going on around us all the time.
I like Gail Graham’s writing style and her descriptions of the area leave you feeling as though you had been there. Her character development of Sarah is excellent. I felt for Sarah. I could feel her pain, grief, confusion and loneliness and then her hope for a new life with the discovery of this other world. I cared about her and I cared about what the outcome of her life would be at the end of this story. This story is for anyone who has ever lost someone and has felt that overwhelming grief and wondered if there really is any hope of life after the loss. Through her depression Sarah realized that there was still hope but what does she ultimately decide? Does she stay with her family and continue on and try to rebuild her life? Or does she leave and go back to this fantasy world in the sea that offers her comfort and friendship; the things she’s been yearning for? Read it and find out for yourself.