Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Book Review - An Ocean of Minutes by Thea Lim

I just finished An Ocean of Minutes by Thea Lim. The book was one of five shortlisted for the 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize and I can see why.

America is in the grip of a deadly flu pandemic. When Frank catches the virus, his girlfriend Polly will do whatever it takes to save him, even if it means risking everything. She agrees to a radical plan. Time travel has been invented; if she signs up for a one-way trip into the future to work as a bonded labourer, the company will pay for the life-saving treatment Frank needs. Polly promises to meet Frank again in Galveston, Texas, where she will arrive in twelve years.

But when Polly is re-routed an extra five years into the future, Frank is nowhere to be found. Alone in a changed and divided America, with no status and no money, Polly must navigate a terrifying new world to find Frank, to discover if he is alive, and to see if their love has endured.

Thea Lim tells a great story. Polly, of whom the story is about, is not the usual type of main character in the stories I usually read. She is fearful, lost and always full of sadness. Despite all of that, she is likable and a survivor doing her best to endure her circumstances and keep her dream alive.

The writing is very descriptive. I marveled at the images Lim could create in my mind.

I'm definitely glad I read this.

About Thea Lim

Her writing has been published by the Southampton Review, the Guardian, Salon, the Millions, Bitch Magazine, Utne Reader and others, and she has received multiple awards and fellowships for her work, including artists' grants from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council. She holds an MFA from the University of Houston and she previously served as nonfiction editor at Gulf Coast. She grew up in Singapore and lives in Toronto with her family.

There is a great interview of how she wrote An Ocean of Minutes on the CBC website.

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