Etta and Otto and Russell and Jamesby Emma Hooper
Etta has never seen the ocean and decides now is the time to set off to see it. Etta, 82 years young and beginning to experience difficulties with her memory, sets off from her home in Saskatchewan to the Atlantic Ocean on foot with few provisions and a piece of paper in her pocket with some pertinent life details in case she needs a memory boost. As her journey begins we experience her life on her journey (accompanied at times by a coyote she names James), what her husband Otto is creating in her absence, how her best friend and neighbor Russell reacts as well as learning the past history of all three of these characters.
I thought I was going to be reading a book similar to The Unlikely Pilgrimageof Harold Fry because of the whole walking a long way for a strange reason premise. Nope. This book just feels darker and stranger. I enjoyed the writing, it was almost poetic at times, but it doesn’t fill you with warmth just loss and confusion. I liked the journey and I did like the (semi-)ambiguity of the ending, but I think many readers will scream aloud at the conclusion. (Out of curiosity I checked the Amazon reviews and quite a few people were upset with the ending. Just a word of warning to those who like things neat, tidy and happy at the end, you’re not going to get that here.)