Set in the early nineteenth-century in a fictional town in New England, Sommers’s brilliant tale weaves a touching portrait of a young man struggling with the questions of justice and accountability. The heir to one of the wealthiest families of New Bedford, Massachusetts, Asa Starbuck has known nothing but easy life. As he begins his training to take over his father’s business, he realizes life doesn’t treat everyone fairly. Trying to pick between his duty toward his family and his personal desire, Asa finds himself entangled in a life-and-death situation. Sommers excels at inviting readers into her characters’ heads, revealing their inner turmoil, fears, and insecurities. The smooth, omniscient third-person narration carries readers along, while the deft, skilled character development allows them to get to know the characters gradually and naturally. Asa is a likable character: his sensitivity and integrity easily earn him readers’ sympathies. Sommers’s writing is capable as she draws scenes of vivid horror and stirring resilience, showing the cruel effects of slavery. This touching story brings appreciation of determination, courage, and strength while celebrating the power of compassion and the dependence and love of friendship and familial ties. Meticulously detailed and beautifully crafted, this is one to cherish.
Categories: historical drama