Lisa Wingate is a powerful storyteller. In every book, she engulfs the reader and transports them through time and space to the very heart of her story. The Sea Keeper’s Daughters is no exception. It’s a compelling book that is not only a page turner in a great storyline but one that will bring tears to the reader eyes. Already a huge fan of Lisa Wingate, I can say that I am never disappointed in her books and always thrilled when a new one is released. I had the incredible privilege of reading this book in an Advanced Reader Copy from Tyndale House Publishers on Edelweiss. This book follows The Story Keeper but can easily be read out of order.
When Whitney Monroe is called to help her ailing stepfather, it seems like the straw to break the camel’s back. Already under severe pressure to keep one of her restaurants running while the other is being held up in local bureaucracy, Whitney finds life spinning out of control. “Perhaps denial is the mind’s way of protecting the heart from a sucker punch it simply can’t handle.” (pg. 1)
Money is tight and with the second restaurant’s issues, Whitney is doing all she can to be everything to everyone and failing miserably. Denise, her business partner and cousin, is the only family she can count on and she’s determined not to let her down. Whitney answers the call to help her stepfather with intentions on reclaiming what was hers and fixing the issues with the restaurant. Making the trip from Michigan to North Carolina, Whitney arrives at the Excelsior Hotel, her grandmother’s home and Whitney’s childhood summer location. Although it offers no great memories of her grandmother, Whitney finds the memories of her mother there suffocating. She also finds her cantankerous stepfather pretty much where she left him all those years ago.
Coming to terms with the past she left behind and tried to forget, Whitney finds herself having to deal with the closure of her mother’s death and the things left behind. “What are you trying to tell me? I whispered to the building, to the ghosts, to my ancestors.”
The power of words can never be underestimated as Whitney discovers while trying to clean up the hotel and contemplating its future as well as her own. She comes across a series of letters written by an ancestor. The letters tell of a woman’s courage to trudge through the wilderness only to face racial prejudice, orphan children and romance. The letters although written in another time, seem to speak to Whitney and through them, she discovers strength: “How sad, I think now, to live an entire life blinded by the ordinary, when the path to the extraordinary waits just beyond the well-meaning prisons of our own making.”
Whitney’s abandonment issues with her father’s death have left her cautious, suspicious and self-protecting. “I have lost the carefree girl I once was…allowed the cutting blades of fear to whittle me down to nubs. I dearly believe it was not fate that brought me here, but God himself. This is the place I will finally find courage, and breath and voice. What I’d witnessed as I’d watched Mark tend to Joel was the work of love. I needed that like I needed air.”
Whitney had known the results of allowing one’s heart to harden and in a quote from the book she says, “Anger and blame were so much easier to manage than acceptance. They were hard and solid. They made good walls. Acceptance was soft. It let everything in, including the pain”. But remembering how her grandmother was so cold and bitter, Whitney ponders, “Had my grandmother hardened herself to keep from being crushed by the painful disappointments in her life?”
The Sea Keeper’s Daughters is written with such powerful quotes. Thought provoking, enticing and empowering, it leaves the reader wanting more yet satisfied with the power of fantastic storytelling. It deserves without a doubt, a five out of five star rating!