Erika Marks helps us hold on to summer with her latest novel, It Comes in Waves. This is a fascinating novel about the love and loss of relationships and it has Folly Beach, South Carolina, as its background. With Marks exercising great skills as a writer you can feel the sand between your toes as you explore the beach and its byways, peopled by enjoyable and interesting characters.
The focus of the book is Claire Patton, a 42-year-old divorcee with a teenage daughter. She is living in the midwest but at one time she was a surfing star on the east coast. When ESPN decides to do a show about the surfing scene in the '90s they invite Claire to come back to Folly Beach on their dime. After a slight hesitation she packs up her daughter and heads for the beach.
The hesitation was caused by the fact Claire had fled Folly Beach several years ago because her then boyfriend Foster cheated on her with her best girlfriend Jill. Foster and Claire and Jill and Shep had been inseparable as couples. Foster and Shep were best friends, and Claire and Jill were too. Everything seemed to be going great, with Claire becoming a real surfer star. Then the unexpected occurred. Jill and Foster got together and soon Claire and Shep learned their partners were going to have a child.
As you can tell, the plot of this book is very complex. From the first few pages you are immersed in the pain and heartbreak of a relationship gone bad. Marks manages to pull out the stops and let the emotions flow as Claire faces her past.
In order to totally enjoy the book the reader has to understand the actions of the four people involved. This is where the book faltered for me. I didn't completely understand why Foster and Jill betrayed their partners. I understood that it happened, and I could move on from that. Still I would have enjoyed the book more if I had been able to understand the emotions and the motivations as to why it happened.
I also did not like the way the story ended. There was too much left up in the air. I wanted some finality, but maybe that just means Marks should write a second book about these characters. And in truth the mark of a good book is that it leaves you wanting more.
Erika Marks is definitely part of the wave of new "southern" writers, even if she is a transplant from the North. She has certainly been a quick study as to the ways and whys of the South. This stands her in good stead in this book.
The summer of 2014 is quickly coming to an end. It Comes in Waves helps us hold back the tide of time and luxuriate in warm weather with a very readable book.
It Comes in Waves is published by NAL. It contains 368 pages and sells for $15.00.
Jackie K Cooper