The Bossy Bookworm
Review of Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy
Migrations features a tragic ecological setup of a world in which wild animals are largely nonexistent, a cold and relentless ocean setting, and frequently dramatic, sometimes tragic character interactions--but also glimmers of hope.
"...I think there is meaning, and it lives in nurturing, in making life sweeter for ourselves, and for those around us."
In the world of Franny Stone, wild animals are largely extinct, mere rumors and fabled wonders of the past because of human ecological destruction.
Now Franny is taking her research equipment and heading to Greenland to track the last Arctic terns in the world, during what might be their final migration to Antarctica.
She manages to talk her way onto a fishing boat and falls in with the crew, and it soon becomes clear that she's not only on a mission to document the critically endangered birds' journey. She's also conveniently left behind many complications and some dark secrets.
Migrations follows Franny as she travels farther from civilization and safety--and as she considers what it would mean to try to cobble together some version of personal redemption and possibly even some semblance of peace with what she's done, what she's seen, and what she's lost.
As increasingly jarring and illuminating personal events unfold in fluid-feeling flashbacks, we see Franny's impulsiveness, her frantic seeking, her often-tragic mistakes and decisions, and her yearning to experience what seems increasingly impossible for her: simple love and acceptance.
A melancholy undercurrent sweeps through Migrations, although small glints of hope exist in and among the grim ecological disasters, and glimmers of human connection and love persist amid personal failings and weaknesses. Franny’s restless nature and drive to keep moving echoes the birds’ instinctive migration, and her desperate need to see the birds succeed reflects her own clawing attempt at survival.
The interpersonal relations in Migrations are emotional and the storyline sometimes feels quite dramatic, while the atmospheric background is gray, cold, and alternates between dull and relentless. It's an interesting dichotomy that kept me uneasy and on edge.
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Australian author McConaghy is also the author of Once There Were Wolves as well as The Chronicles of Kaya series, The Cure series, and the series Strangers of Paragor.