The Prodigal by Michael Hurley

With a prologue that can stand alone as a striking, atmospheric short story on its own, The Prodigal is an eloquently written debut novel of island life. Overall, the story and writing style are enchanting, and the characters are all wonderfully drawn and mostly relatable and likable. As the title implies, the book is an allegory of the prodigal son story, though The Prodigal is a ship, so the reference is not entirely perfect, but this does not detract from the story at all.

Adrian Sharpe is a lawyer—and a very good one—who has charmed his way to the top with his clever and sneaky ways of getting out trouble. He and two of his coworkers take a vacation on the island of Ocracoke, where Adrian encounters a handful of unusual locals who leave him both confused and intrigued. After he returns home, he learns of a medical malpractice case that he had completely forgotten about and which starts that day. This scenario does not seem that realistic, but Hurley pulls it off excellently with his gorgeous writing style, gift for description, and a creation of a distinct tone and atmosphere. The section detailing the trial also is quite long, and though it is a very enjoyable read while reading it, after finishing that section, it seems like the amount of detail did not necessarily serve a purpose. However, upon further inspection, it becomes apparent that most every paragraph does at least something to further develop and reveal Adrian's character. He has both flaws and positive qualities, which make him a someone readers will want both to root for and to hope for personal growth and change.

After the trial and an unfortunate series of events, Adrian is offered the opportunity to return to Ocracoke Island. Each character there has their own personality and background that tie into the story nicely and influence that plot. On the island, Adrian seems to move into the backdrop of the plot as other, more interesting characters come forward—and Adrian also seems to stick out to the reader (but not to the characters) like a sore thumb on the island. The eclectic nature of the population of the island keeps the story engaging, even when it pushes the level of realism. Perhaps it is this edge-of-realistic atmosphere that contributes to the magic of the writing. Hurley has incredible skill in creating a mystical and mysterious tone, especially at the start of the book. The small town community atmosphere is also well-developed, especially in scenes that take place in the bar. A large portion of the book, in the final third, takes place on the boat, The Prodigal, as Adrian and his friends are racing against the main antagonist; once again, here, the descriptions of the setting and of the relationships between the characters are gorgeously wrought, but some of the events aren't entirely realistic. And, once again (again), Hurley pulls it off wonderfully with his romantic-sounding prose.

One thing that bothered me was the level of nudity in the book. I was in no way offended by it (though maybe conservative readers would be) but it did make me roll my eyes sometimes, when it seemed unnecessary. "Really? She's naked again? Why?" Sometimes it made sense, but it seemed that every other page had someone not wearing any clothing for little to no reason.

I would love to read more about the two lovers in the prologue, honestly, and I was disappointed that Hurley didn't fully flesh out their story. Overall, though, The Prodigal is a beautiful read. It is one I would feel compelled to recommend to romance fans and maybe historical fiction fans (even though it takes place in present day, it has a sort of historical fiction feel to it), albeit with a disclaimer about the nudity—but this shouldn't stop anyone from reading.


Today is September 22nd, the day Oceanic flight 815 crashed on the island. Happy LOST plane crash day!

Peace, Aimee

Peace Day 2013

In 1999, Jeremy Gilley founded the film project Peace One Day to document his efforts in creating an annual day of ceasefire and nonviolence with a fixed calendar date. In 2001, Peace One Day achieved its objective when the United Nations unanimously adopted the International Day of Peace 21 September.

Since Peace Day 2007, 4.5 million children in Afghanistan have been vaccinated against polio, and the Taliban signed a ceasefire agreement that allows UNICEF to enter the country on the 21st of September. According the UN, there was a 70% reduction in violence on the day. Peace One Day’s goal for 2012 is to see a reduction in violence across the whole world. If it is possible in Afghanistan, it’s possible anywhere.

In 2011 and 2012, I hosted blogfests to celebrate International World Peace Day, but this year, unfortunately, I simply did not have the time to prepare. It's quite a lame excuse, not having time for peace, but, alas, that is what happened. Life catches up with you, and things slip by. Important things.Things like remembering the violence and war and disease that have scarred our planet throughout history, like empathizing with the poor, ill, and oppression people across the globe, like noticing the signs of domestic abuse in those around us, like reaching out to friends we have wronged and asking them for forgiveness. This is what Peace Day is all about: stepping back and joining with humanity in an effort to love everyone, regardless of nationality, race, religion, gender, age, politics, or language. 

This year, I am obviously not hosting a blogfest, but I have instead compiled a list of eight books, some very new, some very old, that promote peace and peaceful thinking. There are some novels, some memoirs, some nonfiction, but I have read and adored them all. With some, it may not be apparent at first how it relates to peace, but I promise, each book on this list is a gem and offers deep insight into what it means to be human and how understanding this teaches us how to treat one another. I hope you can find one or two books on this list to peruse and enjoy, and I hope you find comfort in knowing that others have read the same book and contemplated it, finding a new perspective on humanity through it, just the same as you. 

Thank you, and peace, Aimee.

1. Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

2. Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu

3. Order without Power: An Introduction to Anarchism by Normand Baillargeon

4. What Is the What by Dave Eggers

5. The Pearl by John Steinbeck

6. Making History by Stephen Fry

7. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

8. Life of Pi by Yann Martel

IWSG - Time and Time Again

The semester has started—my last year before attaining my Bachelor's degree (yes, I'm that young). I am seriously looking forward to grad school, whether that be an MFA program or a regular Master's program in English. Depends on where I get in. But meanwhile, I write.

Except, during the semester, I have less time to write. How original. I feel like this is what most of my IWSG posts have been about during the semester. But this year, I am incorporating as much of my writing life into my studies, and as much of my studies into my writing life.

For instance, I have to write a thirty-page thesis paper about any topic I choose relating to literature. As three of my top twenty favorite books involve time travel, and one of the novels I am working on writing involves time travel, I have added to one of the contenders for my senior thesis to be the effect of time travel in contemporary fiction and its implications of the human condition. I'm pumped.

And meanwhile, I write.

Peace, Aimee

P.S. Read this amazingly comprehensive blog by author Sebastian Cole discussing step-by-step the process of writing, editing, querying, and publishing. I'd even go so far as to say that this should be every writer's go-to guide (though obviously there are some rules you can bend here and there depending on your situation).