Tuck, her husband Paul, and young daughter, Agnes, are forced to leave the mainland and live in a house on an island off the coast of Maine. The island is the home of her late grandmother, the rock’s only inhabitant. There, they hope to reconfigure their lives and regain their ability to live a normal life. While on the island, Tuck counts the days as her grandmother’s executor attempts to beat a deadline to resolve her will; the island and house are left to Tuck’s long absent and uncommunicative father as long as he is not declared dead himself. In fact, he is not dead, but he is nowhere to be found except in a rare email that offers no location information.
Plagued by hunger and doubt day after day, Tuck scours the grounds, the rocks, and the shoreline for anything to eat—kelp, seaweed, berries, sea life, edible wild plants—suitable for boiling to make soup as their only subsistence. To make their fragile situation more complex, Paul undergoes self-directed recovery from drug addiction, which drives him into a world of lies, one in which his wife and daughter do not exist.
This debut novel is bleak and haunting, daring and defiant, filled with the cruel desperation of survival and the immovable fear of what will come next. Often poetic, Tuck’s narration—her observations, her descriptions of the natural world in which she is immersed, and her lingering grief over the loss of normalcy—is surprisingly laced with a modicum of hope and expectation even as circumstances shred her family bonds and dredge up the traumas of her own childhood.
Lungfish by Meghan Gilliss published September 12, 2022. Visit the author at http://www.meghangilliss.com/