This absorbing generational story, which follows the Gannon family from WWII to the present, explores complex dynamics and captures the mood of different decades in America. Korkeakivi's cogent insight into family relationships and the impact of personal loss, as well as how the times we live in effect who we are, shines through. The book opens with an affecting scene in which the patriarch, Michael Gannon, 43 years old and a survivor of the Bataan Death March, realizes that he's having a heart attack. The viewpoint shifts to his beleaguered widow, Barbara, left caring for their four children with a fifth on the way, and then to the troubled Francis, the youngest son, who can never escape the shadows of his heroic father's life and death and, later, his best friend's suicide. Each character's story is rich and excellently crafted: Barbara's practical second marriage five years after her husband's untimely death, plagued with a problem she refuses to recognize; eldest daughter Patty Ann's struggle with a string of loser husbands and the heartbreaking choices she makes to survive; Francis's wanderlust as he lives day-to-day to escape his past, following whims across continents that eventually place him in life-threatening circumstances. In the end, Korkeakivi (An Unexpected Guest) seamlessly brings her themes full circle—heroism, the importance of family, and giving back to the world—all of which would have made Michael Gannon very proud. (Aug.)
"This absorbing generational story...explores complex dynamics and captures the mood of different decades in America. Korkeakivi's cogent insight into family relationships and the impact of personal loss, as well as how the times we live in effect who we are, shines through.... Each character's story is rich and excellently crafted.... In the end, Korkeakivi seamlessly brings her themes full circle-heroism, the importance of family, and giving back to the world."Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"[An] impressive story about how a family will band together and perhaps drift apart to live on."
Sarah Bracy Penn, Harper's Bazaar
"An absolutely transcendent novel about great love and great loss, with a majestic sweep from WWII to Woodstock to modern times. About the memories that change-and save us-and the connections one extraordinary family breaks and remakes. So alive, the novel virtually breathes."Caroline Leavitt, author of Is This Tomorrow and Pictures of You
"I tore through it. Shining Sea is a beautifully drawn testament to everyday heroism and to the power of the family to persevere in the face of tragedy and turbulent world events."Charlotte Rogan, author of The Lifeboat
"I could tell you how in Shining Sea Anne Korkeakivi masterfully explores the impact grief, and war, have on a family. But I will just say this: I loved this book."Ann Hood, author of Comfort: A Journey Through Grief and The Italian Wife
"When I finished reading Anne Korkeakivi's stirring second novel, Shining Sea, I had to double-check the page counthow could such a huge, multi-generational saga be told so skillfully in less than 300 pages? But Korkeakivi does so, and does it so well, never losing her grip on the reader's attention. The canvas is large, but so are the characters and, most importantly, Korkeakivi's talent which brings them to life. I really, really loved it."David Abrams, author of Fobbit
"Shining Sea is a novel of clap-demanding authorial grace. Its drama is eloquent, its message resonant. The truly remarkable Anne Korkeakivi has written a laudable and relentless novel."Chigozie Obioma, author of The Fishermen
"A panoramic novel tracing generations of the Gannon family illuminates the aftershocks of war in the 20th century.... The effortless prose and vining plot make for a winsome tale of kinship and growth. Endearing characters carry a sinuous story of family bonds."
"A gut-wrenching story about war, family, and the persistence of memory, Shining Sea will take you all over the globe without so much as leaving your reading chair."Sadie L. Trombetta, Bustle
"An engaging and moving multi-generational epic."Largehearted Boy
"A meditation on family, the long shadow of war over generations, and myth-making."The Millions
"With a far-reaching plot...and storytelling that couples pointed restraint with sweeping vision, Korkeakivi covers the not-so-shining moments of the late twentieth century. The result is a family saga that explores the lingering effects of war and the elusive emotions of peace."Carol Haggas, Booklist
"An epic tale of resilience.... Korkeakivi's prose is clear, honest, and unadorned throughout. Excellent at crowd control, she deftly handles the curves and swirls of many characters over a long period of time. The big arcs of a life seem to fascinate Korkeakivi particularly, and she is at her most remarkable when flying high for the bird's eye view, then swooping straight down into her characters' hearts."Lisa Alexander, The Common
"This elegantly crafted, brilliantly structured novel is an intimate epic that speaks volumes about the complexities of shared history, and the way we are all overshadowed by the ever-present past. Possessing immense intelligence and a deeply felt understanding of family as the ongoing struggle with which we all must engage, Shining Sea is a quiet, resonant wonder."Douglas Kennedy, author of The Blue Hour and The Pursuit of Happiness
"If you haven't yet found your perfect beach and/or Labor Day read, fret not: Shining Sea is the family saga you want to read-with a message about war that won't leave you queasy from sweetness. Korkeakivi writes beautifully; gobble this one up and keep an eye out for her next."Bethanne Patrick, Lit Hub
"It'll look good on your bookshelf, and it'll make you cry. It's a win-win."Lydia Mansel, Elite Daily
"[Told] with both epic scope and beautiful minimalism."Josh Potter, Shelf Awareness
"Shining Sea has an impressive scope, engaging prose, and compelling themes."Emily Burns Morgan, The Rumpus
"Memorable, lovely, and highly recommended."Historical Novel Society
Korreakivi's second novel (following An Unexpected Guest, which was one of LJ's best bets among first novels for spring/summer 2012) spans several generations of the Gannon family and ties them to major historical events of the 20th century. World War II figures prominently in this family's narrative, and the Vietnam War also claims its casualties. After patriarch Michael dies suddenly at the novel's beginning (the result of his forced participation in the Bataan death march decades earlier), his death haunts his wife, Barbara, and their five children. They all take different paths than expected. Youngest son Francis is affected most dramatically and spends much of his life trying to find himself while traveling in Europe. VERDICT This novel is at its best when illuminating the damage that wars inflict physically and mentally on soldiers and their relations. At its worst, characters are not fully developed. The action plods across the decades as might be anticipated. Ultimately, the family's strife is brought to successful close, but that closure is safe, appealing, and rather reminiscent of movies of the week.—Faye Chadwell, Oregon State Univ., Corvallis
A panoramic novel tracing generations of the Gannon family illuminates the aftershocks of war in the 20th century.When Michael Gannon, war hero and devout Catholic, husband to Barbara, father to Mike Jr., Luke, Francis, Patty Ann, and soon-to-be Sissy, dies on the front lawn of their yellow house in California, Barbara must learn to manage their lives without him. Predominately following Barbara and Francis, the novel ranges from 1962 to 2015; chapters sometimes jump months, other times decades, to offer snapshots of the family's progression. Barbara is remarried to Ronnie, a kind and loving but sexually evasive man. To save him from the draft, Patty Ann marries her high school boyfriend, a ne'er-do-well drug dealer, who leaves her with three children. When the situation becomes overwhelming, Barbara and Ronnie become legal guardians to Kennedy, Patty Ann's eldest son, and care for him even after her third marriage reinstates some stability. After the horrors of losing his father and then his lifelong best friend, Eugene, who killed himself, Francis is relentlessly on the run. But a transformative experience on a boat halfway between Ireland and Scotland leads him to write a hit song and retire, with his fragile wife, to a maple syrup farm in the hills between Massachusetts and Vermont. Characters are occasionally lost in the expanse—Patty Ann's other children are merely mentioned; we learn in passing that after a military stint, Mike Jr. ends up a doctor in Texas; Sissy has disappeared to Africa. Most important to Korkeakivi (An Unexpected Guest, 2012), it seems, is to communicate the damage war causes, not just physically and not just to soldiers, but emotionally and to families and communities everywhere. This damage underpins the novel; Luke is killed training for Vietnam, and the men who do return from battle do so with injuries that ultimately kill them—Michael's weakened heart, Eugene's psychological trauma. Everything works out a little too beautifully—despite the war-induced deaths—tipping the novel somewhat toward the maudlin, its moral toward platitudinous: "The thing about life is it is so damned confusing. Such a web, each piece of it dependent on something else, something that can be as tiny as a smile from a stranger or as huge as heart disease. The good all tangled up with the bad." Even so, the effortless prose and vining plot make for a winsome tale of kinship and growth. Endearing characters carry a sinuous story of family bonds.