The Island

The Island

by Robert Russell

Overview: An account of life on an island in the Thousand Island part of the St. Lawrence River.

Christine Andola (02/04/17): The Island is as much an ode to the St. Lawrence River and the Thousand Islands Region as it is a lively memoir about summer living. Russell, blind since age five, shares his connection to the region that developed the first time he fished in the St. Lawrence as a child. The story describes the measures, lengthy and unusual at times, Russell goes through to spend time in the Thousand Islands Region, on the Canadian side.

The story provides personal insights to island life in all of its splendor and inconvenience. It depicts the hardy, neighborly spirit of the locals, as well as the disparities between them and seasonal residents. There is even an element of raising kids in this summer paradise with all of its inherent dangers. Russell and his wife strive to give their children a legacy they never had while keeping them safe. One of the neighbor families tragically falls short on this goal.

Aside from the descriptions of a world I am somewhat familiar with, I enjoyed other elements of the book. Russell's activities throughout the story -- taking his boat out alone, finding his way around the island in a snowstorm, rescuing his wife from the river in a tornado -- fascinated me given his lack of sight. He managed to perform home maintenance and move around in the environment without too much reliance on sighted individuals.

The Island is a relaxing winter read that transformed me back to the summers of my youth. I look forward to discovering other books by Robert Russell.
Rating: *****

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