Review By Shannon

Favourite Quote:

“When the world’s brokenness feels like our own, we search for something to mend it.”

Goodreads Synopsis: 

Lives are forever changed in this heartwarming beach read! A story of hope, family, and love among the dunes and salty spray, off the coast of South Carolina, The Island of Summer Sunsets is the perfect escape for fans of Kristy Woodson Harvey, Brenda Novak, and Nancy Thayer.

In the small southern village on Fripp Island, where the daily tide swells and minnow counts are the biggest news, Janie Brooks lives in a beach bungalow next door to her mother, and her life is moving along at about the same slow pace as the island—exactly the way she wants it.

After the death of Janie’s husband, unable to find her own way, she continues to follow her husband’s passion for island conservation and spends her days with the seagulls and swallow-tailed kites, in the serene bliss of the Atlantic coast. Until newcomer Ryan Kennedy and his teenage daughter move into the rental down the street, shaking up Janie’s well-ordered, simple life.

Ryan has enough to deal with, being a single dad and managing his daughter’s grief over the abandonment by her mother. All he wants is to move into a brand-new house in this quaint community and start fresh. But that might be easier said than done.

Will Janie and Ryan find their own version of paradise? Or will one get in the way of the other?

A summer escape that will whisk you away to an island getaway and have you wishing for a seaside retreat with your feet in the sand and the golden sunset at your back.

I am going to be upfront: I want everyone to read this book. I want students to study it, reviewers to sing its praises, and other writers to quote it. I want us all to feel the brokenness that Matthieu Akins lays bare, and join the search that he speaks of. I am unable to be unbiased. It’s just that good.

With journalistic precision The Naked Don’t Fear the Water: An Underground Journey with Afghan Refugees lays bare the global issue of migration in its absolute complexity; simultaneously with the emotional impact of the very best novels, it exposes the terrifying and heartbreaking reality of being a human – from the ‘wrong part’ of our world.

Aikins tells the harrowing story of traveling the smugglers’ road from Afghanistan to Europe with his friend and interpreter, Omar. Beautifully written, he artfully cites theologians, philosophers, politicians, poets and military leaders from across ages, and places their arguments with surgeon-like precision amid the terrors and trials of the journey of today’s Afghan refugees.  The backbone of the story is the relationship between Aikins and Omar. Together they inhabit refugee camps and squats and they meet other humans from a myriad places and stages of life, as they slip, slam and collide with the borders, legality, nations and safety. They grapple with life, love and death.

My gut reaction bounced between the personal and political. The big question I asked myself over and over again was – did his mother know he was doing this? Which seems a bit silly to ponder so heavily, but there is an underlying question within this book, the one that we, the reader, are a part of. How far should we leave our privilege behind in search of our humanity? As a war correspondent, Aikins is clearly skilled in the navigation of dangerous places, but is literally putting his life on the line in service to the story he’s trying to tell, asking too much? 

Aikins heroic action in the service of love, humanity and understanding deserves your attention. Really. Read this book. You will be thankful you did.