On February 14, 1982, the oil rig Ocean Ranger sank in the Hibernia oil fields of the North Atlantic, off the coast of Newfoundland during a severe storm and all those aboard drowned. Lisa Moore's 2009 novel February fictionalizes the deep physical and emotional grief still resonating years later with those who lost fathers, sons, husbands, brothers and lovers in the tragedy by telling the story of one widow, Helen O'Mara while she struggles to carry on and bring up her young family. Helen is left with three young children, and a fourth on the way.
The novel jumps back and forth in time; back to Helen and Cal's courtship and marriage, ahead to the present (2008) when Helen is in her mid-fifties and still grieving, back to the time of the disaster when Helen finds out Cal has drowned... In some cases this drives me crazy in a book, but Moore has written it so well, and often included a date at the beginning of each chapter, I didn't find it confusing or hard to follow the story.
Over twenty years later, Helen's grief is still profound - she still wonders exactly how things unfolded that night. Was Cal asleep? Or was he playing cards? Was he thinking of her and their children? Did he really understand what was happening? Helen struggles to get on with her life. A sub-plot involves her son John who arrives home unexpectedly with life-changing news.
We all deal with grief differently, it is a very personal process; Moore has captured one woman's journey. A powerful story of love and loss, and the long road back, it was the Canada Reads winner of 2013.
"I think books are like people, in the sense that they'll turn up in your life when you most need them."