Cormorant Lake is a story of choosing your own family, generation after generation. It begins as Evelyn is fleeing with two children she has, more or less, kidnapped from their incompetent and addicted mother after she found the youngest half-drowned in the bathtub. Evelyn had been caring for those kids while the mother took off and her recent return just put the girls in jeopardy. She drives north to Nan, the woman who took care of her when he own mother, Jube, failed her leaving her to live, more or less, on the porch.

Nan is haunted by her past, the child she lost in a miscarriage, and the boy “without a face” whom she cared for while her friend worked in a lumber camp. She is also bothered by local gossips and small-town life. Evelyn moves in with Nan and they settle into a routine with Evelyn working two jobs while Nan cares for the kids.

Cormorant Lake is one of those books that can haunt you. Nan and Evelyn are women who had the love and courage to be a mother to children who were neglected. Jube is interesting, a woman we initially think of as a bad mother, but then we learn how much she loves. Evelyn and Nan seem so much more loving, but they have their own failures. It is a fascinating story of finding love and family where you can.

The language is entrancing, particularly when she describes the land. The story has elements of magical realism, though maybe the ghosts are guilty consciences.

I received an ARC of Cormorant Lake from the publisher through NetGalley

Advertisement