I spotted this whilst browsing a small bookshop in a small village in the middle of the Peak District – a complete chance encounter! I’m a fan of Thériault’s work:
Set on the rugged north shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Canada, The Boy Who Belonged to the Sea tells the touching story of an extraordinary friendship between two young boys who have both suffered the loss of a parent. Although they have little else in common, the boys come together in their grief and take refuge in a world of their own creation, a magical undersea realm inhabited by fantastical beings. Their imaginations take them on a wild adventure, but as the lines between reality and fantasy begin to blur, their search for belonging takes them on a perilous journey that threatens to end in tragedy.
The story follows a young boy whose parents are in a tragic accident who is then to live with his grandparents in a small village where his mother grew up. Upon joining the local school, Luc is introduced – a strange, insular boy who lives with his fisherman father.
As the story develops, we learn of Luc’s love for the sea – stemming from his Mother entering it one day to never be seen again; Luc believing her to be a mermaid, rather than facing up to the possibility of her suicide.
As the boys friendship develops, they begin fantasising of an underwater world of their own creation, but as for Luc, when the line between fantasy and reality become blurred, things begin to strain in their relationship, and indeed Luc’s control over his mind.
I read this book over the course of 2 days, eager as I was to continue with the story. The book has a bleak atmosphere to it, and it’s written well into it considering the story. The themes sought throughout are mostly concerning the relationship between mothers and sons. Luc having an absent mother and a present but abusive father, he is seeking examples of motherhood from the other characters in an effort to create a viable image of his own.
Much in the lines of The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman and The Postman’s Fiancee, the story is a little strange in comparison to most novels these days, and will likely be not to everyone’s taste. That been said, this is certainly one I think people should try. The author writes consistently interesting books and I hope he continues to do so in the future, not that his other two have began to receive the recognition they deserve.