Monday, July 13, 2009

A bedside confessional

Moira Stone sits by the bedside of her comatose sister Amy in Susan Fletcher's "Oystercatchers" (ISBN 9780393060034).

It's been more than four years of waiting for the 16-year-old to wake and recover from injuries sustained during a fall, and night after night the sister she barely knew recounts her days at the boarding school she went to before her sister was born.

As she says, "I will tell you, then, about being a teenager - how it is, for you became one in this coma. All you know of your teen years is the back of your eyelids, and the smell of this room."

Can you imagine?

Yet, it is not Amy for whom I felt sympathy, it is Moira.

It is so easy to relate to her feelings of awkwardness at school, of being the outcast because of her social status (or lack thereof) and her interest in school, of her jealousy over her sister's relationship with their parents.

Oystercatchers are "red-beaked birds, with a low, straight flight, and their call is mournful." They do not migrate, instead braving the cold weather, content to stay home.

Which sister does it refer to? Amy who was all joy and life at home or the darker Moira who was never content unless she was near the sea.


- Tricia Ambrose

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