Susan Wiggs






Mira, March 2005
Reviewed by Barbara Fielding
Three men on the USS Dominion Aircraft Carrier find themselves in harm's way --Captain Steve Bennett, Pilot Joshua Lamont and Airman Michael Rivera. At home on Whidbey Island in Washington, the lives of the women who love them are about to be changed forever.
Captain Steve Bennett discovers some unsettling news just days before his deployment. A secret he kept from his wife Grace comes to light. It's a secret that has the power to shake the foundation of his marriage. Their teenage twins Emma and Brian, and youngest daughter Katie, will also have to sort through the impact of this revelation while he is at sea. Will he be able to reconnect with Grace and reassure his children through email or will this deployment tear the fabric of his family apart?
Grace Bennett is feeling her age. Years of following her husband around the world trying to maintain the image of the perfect Navy Officer's wife is starting to wear on her. When Grace discovers a beautiful cottage on the Whidbey Island, she wants to buy it and put down roots, even though she and Steve agreed they would wait. But after she discovers the secret her husband has been keeping from her she decides it's time she made some choices that feel right for her.
Emma, Brian and Katie's life is turned upside down every time they have to relocate to a new place. They seem to handle things well, but underneath the surface they struggle with pressures unique to military kids. They are challenged by their new circle of friends and circumstances that could complicate their father's career. Sorting out how much to tell their father and what to resolve alone is hard enough -- when their father is involved in a mishap aboard ship their lives are tested further. 
Lauren Stanton, a young widow who teaches fitness classes on the island, rekindles her love life with Navy pilot Josh Lamont. He is the first person she has allowed to penetrate her fog of grief and awaken her heart to the new possibilities life could have in store for her.
Patricia Rivera will have her first child while her husband Michael is on deployment. She finds comfort in her new circle of friends, Grace and Lauren, who offer help and reassurance through this special time in her life.
THE OCEAN BETWEEN US is a deeply moving tale with timely insights that capture the lives of military wives and lovers. It explores the demands separation puts on relationships and exposes the strain and hardships they face. Susan Wiggs has done an outstanding job with this multi-character drama. Written primarily from Grace Bennett's viewpoint, readers will follow her on a transitional journey as she finds her way through a family crisis and mid-life confusion.
THE OCEAN BETWEEN US is divided into five parts. In Part One an event takes place that endangers the three men who are central characters. Part Two takes us back in time, nine months earlier to explain events leading up to their deployment. Wiggs did a fine job drawing out the suspense, leaving these characters with unknown fates or injuries until the conclusion. This is a solidly written tale and the transitions from character to character are well done. THE OCEAN BETWEEN US is a 2005 Rita Award finalist.
June 2005


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