This 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.
... an atmospheric, expansive look into the inner lives of the Dunne family as they grapple with sickness, caregiving, grief and their lives as permanent residents of a tourist dream spot ... At face value, Margot, Liz and Evy are simple, accessible characters who are easy to relate to and root for. However, they become transcendent for the ways they learn to exist within the contradictions and compartmentalizations of their survival techniques, forever aligning and realigning themselves to new normals. Runde’s portrayal of the pain of living grief, the horror at watching a person you love change before your eyes, and the daily charting of each loss and win is not only heartbreaking but masterly. Although little truly changes in her characters’ day-to-day lives, she allows them space to breathe and pushes their boundaries by delving deep into the darkest corners of their hurts, resentments and fears ... In the end, The Shore is not read but breathed, as life-affirming, natural and beautifully flawed as the world and emotions it embodies. Runde is a powerful, masterfully restrained writer, a keen interpreter of the human psyche, and a perfect comp for readers who enjoy --- and have had their hearts broken and repaired by --- Mary Beth Keane, Cara Wall and Ann Napolitano.
Runde has written a heartfelt family drama saturated with a sense of place and the passage of time. Brian’s decline occurs over the course of one summer, but the novel also explores the long, complicated history of Margot and Brian’s relationship. Along with the particulars of life in a Jersey Shore town and evocative sensory details of the beach, Runde vividly renders a portrait of a family on the edge. The novel occasionally moves into a more lyrical, meditative mode that imagines the Dunnes in the future, but there is also excellent use of more prosaic text messages and emails.
Katie Runde's debut novel touches on a disheartening topic, which she pens with grace and sympathy. This tale is not only about someone's passing with a horrendous disease, but it depicts how family members deal with the agony of it all. Does it pull them apart, or does it bring them together? While the daughters try to hide their anguish in their jobs, spending time on the beach, or with their friends, it's understood they are all hurting. All this brings to light the reality of our own demise or of a loved one and how we would handle it. All the very relatable family members are not without quirks, making this a tender read about dealing with the pain of loss.
Vivid if unfocused ... Runde’s evocative descriptions conjure the salty humidity of the Jersey Shore...but some narrative threads feel extraneous, such as the romance between Evy and her classmate. Though uneven, this transportive work successfully captures the dissonance and resilience of family.