Mira Banul lives in Haven, an island shore community off the New Jersey coast. A year-round resident with her mother Mickey and brother Jasper Lee, Mira and her friends know every inch of their six mile-long, one half-mile-wide town. They know the weather, the people, the stories.
“We knew what mattered most of all was us, and that we’d be there for us, and that we would not allow the outside world to actually dilute us. Like I said, we knew our water.”
Water defines life in Haven. As with any coastal town, the ocean is a constant presence. The residents live among the shore’s natural beauty but know that with it comes the potential danger of storms. With their emergency kits and plans, they’re prepared.
Until the day comes when they’re not.
On a random September day, a superstorm (think Hurricane Sandy) unleashes its fury on Haven, and the results are catastrophic for the barrier island. Even worse, Mira is alone. Her mother and brother are miles away on the mainland for what was to be a routine doctor’s visit, as Jasper Lee has Hunter syndrome, a lysosomal storage disease. Mira speaks of her brother’s condition (he was “born with no iduronate-2-sulfatase enzyme, which means he couldn’t recycle mucopolysaccharides…”) using the jargon of someone who understands medical complexities because her family lives it.
The storm throws everything that Mira knows into question. Her somewhat predictable life in Haven becomes anything but as people go missing and another arrives, rather suddenly and mysteriously. Circumstances are altered and it’s up to Mira to figure out how to reorder everything — or, if not, to figure out how to live and understand and accept her new reality.
This Is the Story of You, Beth Kephart’s twenty-first book, uses extreme weather and the topography as metaphor for the major storms of life. It’s about the resilience inside everyone, regardless of age, physical capabilities, or resources.
Another symbol for inner resilience is found in Jasper Lee’s extensive collection of sand, Kephart’s acknowledgement to Superstorm Sandy which bestowed catastrophic damage on the Jersey shore but didn’t defeat the people and families who call it home.
“Think about it,” Jasper Lee said. “The more you knock around a grain of sand, the smoother and more polished it becomes. The heavier the wave, the more powerful the crystal. Trample it, pound it, toss it, scrape it, dig it, build it, crush it, but what have you done? You cannot defeat sand. Sand is victorious. Sand washes in, sand washes out, sand goes its own which-ing way.”
This Is the Story of You may be Mira Birul’s story, but in reality, it belongs to everyone.
This Is the Story of You
by Beth Kephart
This is Post #15 of 99 in my 99 Days of Summer Blogging project.
This post is also part of #WeekofReviews hosted by Estella’s Revenge.