The Oceanography of the Moon by Glendy Vanderah
Publication Date: 22nd March 2022
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Romance
One Liner: Great potential but falls flat.
Riley Mays moves in with her cousins Alec and Sachi after the death of her mother and aunt. Riley feels the loss of Aunt Julia too hard to digest. She slowly starts to live again, experiencing the beauty of nature at their Wisconsin farm and nurturing Kiran, their cousins’ child. She is still in her shell and spends half her time on the moon (an imaginary world to escape reality).
Vaughn Orr is a best-selling author of four books at the age of twenty-nine. However, he has a traumatic past that threatens to drown him in a never-ending abyss. When the writer’s block and stress get too much, Vaughn drives out of New York to escape. He ends up at Riley’s farm, where the family is welcoming and affectionate.
However, Riley sees the dark hidden inside him and fears that he can ruin all that she tried to protect. The attraction between them complicates things further.
Truths come tumbling out when it gets too hard to hide the harsh secrets. How do the revelations affect Riley and Vaughn? Can they finally let go of their painful pasts and think of a happy future?
What I Like:
The scenes picturing nature are beautiful to read. The imagery is vivid and paints a clear picture of the setting. I could feel the waves swirling around me, the breeze in the air, and the touch of dry leaves. I even saw the moths dancing around me.
The dynamics between Riley and her family members are heartwarming. Kiran is my favorite character. His uniqueness, his fragility, and his collector soul touched my heart. His magic had so much potential but never took off.
In recent times, this is the first book that mentions the word Hindu as a religion and (almost) credits yoga and meditation to Hinduism. Sachi grows up practicing different religions, and Hinduism is one of those. It was a pleasant surprise that the word Hindu was used more than once instead of the vague mainstream terms like Indian or South Asian.
What Didn’t Work for Me:
The lead characters, Riley and Vaughn, are aged 21 and 29, respectively. However, Riley sounds like a 16-17-year-old, while Vaughn seems more like a 32-33-year-old guy. Now, this became a problem when their relationship progressed. I had to remind myself of their ages.
The blurb says ‘everyday magic’, which sounds cool. The build of magic is very strong in the book. But that’s it. It stops there. The story teases the readers, promising more and maybe a foray into magic realism, but stays rooted to the spot. It is rather frustrating when the premise is so ready for some real magic, but nothing materializes.
The first 20% of the book is stilted and abrupt. Luckily, It eventually eases into a smoother narration. Midway through, I liked that the narrative style suited the character’s mindsets. However, the second half of the story has secrets tumbling out one after another. It almost became information overload at that point.
The ending is a little too easy and conveniently put together. Though I’m a fan of a happily ever after, this one feels effortless, considering how the first half emphasized the dark secrets and troubling pasts.
To sum up, The Oceanography of the Moon has great potential but falls short in quite a few aspects. It didn’t help that I went into the book with moderate to high expectations. Still, if you like books with troubled lead characters and stories set close to nature, you might enjoy this one.
The ARC (Read Now) is available on NetGalley until 5th April 2022.
About the Author: Srivalli Rekha is a blogger, writer, and amateur photographer. She got a degree in MBA and MA English Literature and chose to become a writer and a poet instead of a corporate professional.