Oct 12, 10
Read from September 26 to October 07, 2010
The Deep End of the Ocean
New York: Viking, 1996
434 pp. $10.20 (Amazon Paperback)
Life for an average suburban family is going by peacefully, until the younger son, Ben, is kidnapped at a high school reunion. Distraught, the mother, Beth, a photographer, goes into mental collapse and wallows in her grief, while the rest of the family is left to fend on their own. The older son, Vincent, who was 7 at the time, feels responsible for his brother’s disappearance and has to grow without the love of his mother and starts showing delinquent behavior. 9 years go by, until Beth meets Sam, a neighborhood boy who offers to mow the lawn. She realizes Sam is her child Ben, who had been living just two blocks away for several years. The Deep End of the Ocean by Jacquelyn Mitchard tells the tale of this family adapting to living without a lost child and his struggle to fit back in with this new family. This book was a slow read and had very little character development. However, the story was written in an interesting way.
After spending more than half the book showing Beth in half frenzy, breaking down after every other mention of the word “Ben”, the author finally moves on with the actual plot and gets to the discovery of Sam. And at that point, she uses the rest of the book to describe the happenings of a few weeks. As a book that describes mainly two events and the mindsets of the people in the story, 434 pages is just way too long to drag the story out to. Also, the characters did not change that much through the story. The only character “development” was Beth turning from a somewhat annoying mother to an even more annoying one to one that felt empowered after finally saying one sentence back to a somewhat annoying one. The other character development was for their older son Vincent, or “Reese” as he calls himself later, who starts off trying to be a good kid, but then feels lonely with his parents ignoring him, thus acting up for attention, and trying to make amends for losing his brother. Besides this, everyone stayed the same from beginning to end, the father, Ben, the little sister, the grandparents, etc.
Even so, I enjoyed reading the book from different perspectives: Beth and Vincent/Reese, although the Vincent view was first introduced pretty far into the novel. Jacquelyn Mitchard had it so we could read into the minds of the two people and what happens around them, while still keeping it in third person. It would have been more enjoyable if more characters were delved into, but it was nice that the author chose to go into a teenager’s mind.
The Deep End of the Ocean was a nice read, though it was extremely long. For long trips or on rainy days, this book would be a good pick, but as a novel, it wasn’t that good.