Also by this author: Set the Stars Alight, Yours Is the Night, All the Lost Places
Published by Bethany House Publishers on April 30, 2019
Genres: Fiction, Christian, General
Buy on Amazon
In the wake of WWII, a grieving fisherman submits a poem to a local newspaper: a rallying cry for hope, purpose . . . and rocks. Send me a rock for the person you lost, and I will build something life-giving. When the poem spreads farther than he ever intended, Robert Bliss's humble words change the tide of a nation. Boxes of rocks inundate the tiny, coastal Maine town, and he sets his calloused hands to work, but the building halts when tragedy strikes.
Decades later, Annie Sawyer is summoned back to Ansel-by-the-Sea when she learns her Great-Uncle Robert, the man who became her refuge during the hardest summer of her youth, is now the one in need of help. What she didn't anticipate was finding a wall of heavy boxes hiding in his home. Long-ago memories of stone ruins on a nearby island trigger her curiosity, igniting a fire in her anthropologist soul to uncover answers.
She joins forces with the handsome and mysterious harbor postman, and all her hopes of mending the decades-old chasm in her family seem to point back to the ruins. But with Robert failing fast, her search for answers battles against time, a foe as relentless as the ever-crashing waves upon the sea.
Every once in a while, you come across a debut novel that is so enchanting, you wonder how it possibly could have been the author’s first. Whose Waves These Are is such a novel. From its picturesque and fully realized setting in Ansel-by-the-Sea to a perfectly executed plot to every single one of its characters, Amanda Dykes gives readers a magnificent story of brokenness healed that you simply cannot leave alone.
The opening chapters set the stage: In September 1944, one of the two Bliss twins receives his call to the draft. In May 2001, Ann Bliss receives notice that her great-uncle—GrandBob to her, Rob to everyone else—is in the hospital. She hasn’t seen the old man in years. They’d only met that one summer she spent with him, the summer that changed her life. And now she was going back.
Dykes uses her past storyline sparingly, using it mainly to flesh out the relationship between Rob and Roy, but giving us elements of romance along the way. Roy, who was drafted into the Navy. Rob, left at home. It’s just enough to make the present storyline have weight, to give meaning to GrandBob’s former obsession, one from which he’s grown disconnected and disillusioned.
A book review, in many ways, is a compression of the novel tinged with the critique of the review’s author. I have this job of taking a three hundred and sixty page novel and compressing its plot, its characters, its themes, its symbolism, its setting, and its imagery into a concentrated version where you can decide if you should read the whole thing in just five minutes or less. Normally, I don’t find that very difficult.
But I’ve written and rewritten and rewritten this review, each time finding new things to highlight or new characters to mention or a piece of symbolism to talk about. And then I’ll backspace and erase and try again. No, better to let them read it themselves.
I wanted to talk about the relationship between Rob and Roy.
About the poem that stands at the heart of the novel.
About the symbolism of the crowdsourced lighthouse and the events of the final chapters.
I wanted to gush with you over the fact that I could smell the salt in the sea air as I read this book even though I am (if Google is correct) some thousand miles away from any part of coastal Maine.
I wanted to laugh with you at the name GrandBob (which I may try to make my eventual Grandpa name, even though my name is Josh) and the relationship he carries, not just with Ann, but the entire town of Ansel-by-the-Sea.
But more than that, I want you to go into Whose Waves These Are fresh and untainted by any opinion, even my own. Experience the book as I did—with no idea what you’re getting into. I don’t want to even spoil anything about it with my praises.
Just trust me. I’ve earned that trust, I hope. Just trust me. Read this book. Live in this book. Then come and talk to be about it and I can say all those other things I wanted to say.