Melissa Crytzer Fry's Reviews > Eternal on the Water

Eternal on the Water by Joseph Monninger
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Nov 22, 11

bookshelves: wip-comps
Read in November, 2011

There was much to love about this book – especially if you are a fan of heavy, thought-provoking fiction with vivid sensory detail. A love story at its core, this novel is narrated by a nature-loving teacher named Cobb and is steeped in scientific study of the natural sciences (just the right amount to keep the reader reading and to lend credibility to the various environmental themes).

Rooted in science and sprinkled with folklore, the novel spoke to my own environmentally sensitive side, featuring corvid research (crows and ravens) and even turtle conservation. But ultimately, Eternal on the Water is the story of a remarkable woman, Mary, facing an incurable neurodegenerative disease and the way the couple, together, navigates those difficult waters (figuratively and literally through their kayaking adventures).

The book is not an easy read because it deals with loss in so many ways – loss of a loved one, loss of choice that is forced by the hand of disease, loss of physical control. But it is also uplifting in so many ways, taking the reader to the beautiful backdrops of Maine and New Hampshire; Monninger is a master of describing physical settings, and his writing is poetic and lovely.

This is a story that will stay with me for a very long time, as it explores the dilemmas and moral decisions faced by people with progressive illness and the spouses who love them. In the end, the clear message is that “life is for the living,” as Cobb recounts of Mary’s approach to every day. The story provided a powerful reminder to live every moment without regret, and to live fully.
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