PositiveNew York Times Book ReviewThis is Katie Runde’s first novel, and she writes with a fluid sensitivity to detail and mood, hitting tough questions hard and head-on ... Runde is a writer with a great ear, and her portrayal of teenagers is pitch perfect ... Runde creates lovely moments with these summer romances and the quiet vigil over Brian’s final decline. Occasionally we flash to the future, rising out of the narrative for a glimpse of survival after this tragic summer. These passages connect the story to the larger arc of all lives ... Outcomes are never seriously in doubt in The Shore. Where the novel wobbles for me is in Runde’s decision to hang suspense on Margot’s plan to uproot her daughters without a word of discussion; it bespeaks a kind of blind selfishness that can’t be wholly explained by grief ... I had the feeling that Runde was casting about for a way to inject tension instead of trusting her material and her skill ... Runde is an expert at the fastball to the heart. What I missed was an occasional changeup. This does not interfere with the ultimate success of the novel. You can tuck it into your beach bag, but don’t expect a romp. The Shore is never sentimental; it is absorbing, lucid and true. Anyone who has lost someone by inches will recognize the struggle to push through despair and affirm the dogged endurance of love.
Amanda Eyre Ward
MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewI confess I was initially put off by the premise, which sails through the Hallmark Channel into Love Boatish waters ...Once we board the Splendido Marveloso in Athens, Ward reveals that she has a way with humor ... I’ve never been on a cruise, so this was a view into a world I will never visit unless you hit me on the head with a two-by-four or give me tickets for free. The author’s eye for forced fun is exquisite. The Very Hairy Chest Contest, the towel-animal lessons, the marzipan piano: All the marvels are splendido ... Beneath the surface, though, there is real darkness ... The trouble with four perspectives is that you long for at least one character who has an interesting mind ... I wish Ward had not employed the tricks of lesser novelists, such as contrived cliffhangers and misdirection in order to engender suspense. Still, there is real poignancy in this novel, as wounded characters struggle to regain childhood loyalties. Ward nails how family expeditions are ruined and saved, over and over again, by fleeting moments of connection and the consensus to survive without killing one another.