Imagine you’re Verity Peterson whose baby girl was stolen one day while you were at work and your husband disappeared at the same time. You’ve been waiting 17 years to find out if your daughter is alive, was killed, has been abused . . . so many scenarios constantly bombard your consciousness. Every March 26th you go down to the ocean and throw a bottle into it with a message for whoever finds it, asking if they’ve seen your daughter.
Now, supposing you’d lived all your life thinking your mother and your grandparents were all dead, you had no aunts or uncles, and your dad was the only one in the world who cared about you. Then one day, your dad does something incredibly stupid: he steals a car and gets caught and according to the fingerprints, he’s not who he says he is and neither are you. Suddenly, you are not Marni Armstrong but Gemma Elizabeth Peterson and your mother has been waiting for you to be found for seventeen years.
Set against the backdrop of a coastal town in Maine, Seashell Season follows the painful reunion of a mother and daughter as they try to learn about each other, Gemma about a family she has never met, Verity about the daughter she is aching to hug and enjoy but finds instead a prickly, insecure girl full of bravado and attitude. The emotions and attitudes come across as very real and the road back to reconciliation painful and strewn with pitfalls.
This is the first book I’ve read by Holly Chamberlin but she has 13 other books to her credit. At first, I found the narrated backstory a bit much, and then, in the 8th chapter the perspective changed from that of mother to that of daughter. Sometimes, it took a few paragraphs of a chapter to figure out who the narrator was. However, after that, the story was compelling enough that I kept turning the pages to try to figure out what was going to happen next. Verity is a sculptor who has finally, with persistence come into her own. She also teaches art at a local college. Gemma, has never stayed long in one place and has been living mostly in Arizona, certainly never long enough to make friends. Just as Gemma and Verity are starting to put a life together for themselves, Gemma’s dad’s cousins come swooping in to offer her a posh life and an exclusive academy education. Can life get any more confusing for this young lady? An interesting, fast read. * * * 1/2