Denise's Reviews > The Infinite Tides

The Infinite Tides by Christian Kiefer
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's review
Aug 08, 2012

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Read from August 08 to 12, 2012

3.5 out of 5 stars - "All you have ever done can be measured not by distance but by circumference."

Astronaut and engineer Keith Corcoran has reached the zenith of his life's ambition on a mission to the ISS. It is then, right after his finest moment, that he receives news that his teenaged daughter, Quinn, has died in an automobile accident. After several months of failed attempts by Mission Control, he finally is returned to earth and eventually to his house on an unfinished cul-de-sac only to find that his wife has left him and the house is almost completely empty. What follows is a poignant tale of a man who has a relationship only with numbers mourning his losses in complete isolation. Unable to understand the concepts of feelings and grief, he remains in a state of suspended animation. Keith's history and family life are revealed in flashback fashion and the reader can see how the trajectory of his life has taken him completely away from what ends up mattering most.

Although there is a lot of mathematics and other scientific detail in this book that I completely had no understanding of, I was able to see that, because this character was driven by his intellect, he was unable to move through any sort of reconciliation with what had happened. He forms a friendship of sorts with a neighbor, a Ukrainian man with a keen interest in astronomy who immigrated to the USA only to end up working at Target. It is this connection that ultimately provides Keith with the chance to examine his past and come to the realization of where he was and where he might be going.

The novel is focused on one man's introspective self analysis and journey from paralysis to action. Because Keith was so unused to examining anything or living beyond his work, he has a very rough time and drifts in his own agonies of missed opportunities and lost love. It is sometimes very depressing but very moving. The reader is left with a reminder about the nature of our choices. We do not move on a flat plane up or down, but more so we spiral in an orbit around whatever center we have created of our life and our dreams.

This is not a quick read but is one that provides much to reflect upon. What does matter most in our lives?

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