Title: Sea Change
Author: Karen White
Release Date: June 5, 2012
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5
Ava Whalen has always had an unexplainable crippling fear of water, which is why it’s so strange she’s moving to St. Simon’s Island. Her new husband, Matthew Frazier, doesn’t really know about her fear – after all, they decided to marry so quickly, and Ava hasn’t really told him yet. But there are things that Matthew hasn’t told Ava as well, secrets that will emerge as they settle down into their new married life. As Ava tries to make a new life with Matthew, she begins to focus on his family’s turbulent history, hoping that the keys to her future happiness lie in understanding the past.
Sea Change combines Karen White’s atmospheric writing with a historical mystery that begins to consume Ava bit by bit. The sense of place in the novel is really incredible; White’s vivid descriptions ensure that readers will be able to taste the salt in the air and feel the cool breeze of the island. She writes her Southern settings with such detail that it’s a joy to read her books simply because they transport the reader to an entirely new place.
There is an aura of mystery that surrounds Sea Change. From the beginning, it’s clear there is something going on with Ava, that something isn’t quite right. Why hasn’t she confided in Matthew about her deepest fears? Why is she so nervous, so scared? Ava is sympathetic and well-written, so the reader is invested in her healing and coming to terms with whatever it is that ails her. Ava’s insecurities combine with Matthew’s secrets to create a very uncertain feeling. White’s writing style helps with this, combining with the storyline to create an almost gothic feel. It makes for a lovely reading experience.
The novel is actually told in two different time periods: it’s primarily in the present, but there are also flashbacks to one of Michael’s ancestors, just before the War of 1812. Both time periods are well done, and White intertwines the stories well. The plot unfolds slowly, but carefully, such that the reader is drawn into the tale over time. There’s the initial hook of Ava’s issues, and by the time the reader realizes that things are much deeper than that, they’re very much invested in the storyline.
Karen White is a very talented author, and Sea Change is just the latest in a group of reliably good reads. Her latest novels have missed that mysterious, almost desperate, element in the writing style and storyline, so I’m thrilled White has returned to that in this novel. She does a great job connecting past and present, making both storylines suspenseful and relevant to Ava’s growth as a character. It’s a satisfying read that readers will savor from beginning to end, and it would make a perfect escape for the summer.
Other books by Karen White:
The Beach Trees – Karen White
The Color of Light – Karen White
Falling Home – Karen White
The Girl on Legare Street – Karen White
The House on Tradd Street – Karen White
The Strangers on Montagu Street – Karen White
Learning to Breathe – Karen White
The Lost Hours – Karen White
The Memory of Water – Karen White
On Folly Beach – Karen White
Pieces of the Heart – Karen White