By Lynn Willoughby
In 1929 a tsunami struck Newfoundland and instantly wiped out several outport communities. Aloysius Fuery’s parents are gone and his life is forever changed.
However, the novel actually opens during WWII in the South Pacific, seen through the eyes of Nishino, a Japanese soldier. So we have the wreckage from the tsunami, the wreckage in Nishino and the wreckage in the few days of love between 20 year old Aloysius (Wish) and 16 year old Mercedes (Sadie). It is 1940 and Wish has no prospects at all in Newfoundland, so he signs up to fight, for Britain.
I found this book very disturbing on so many fronts: Wish is Catholic, Sadie is Protestant and her family will never let them be together. Nishino is Canadian. but during the war he is more Japanese than the Japanese.The POW camp outside of Nagasaki is unbelievably cruel and sadistic and of course by location we know what will happen. There is wreckage enough to go around.
While this could be a love story or historical fiction set in Newfoundland, what I will remember most are the war scenes. Throughout this book the unrelenting theme is prejudice and hate and the damage both will do to the individuals involved and to the world in general.
It contains a lot of meat, but like Crummey’s other novels is very well written and certainly worth a read.
- River Thieves