STARRED REVIEW
July 31, 2020

Migrations

Charlotte McConaghy

Reminiscent of adventurous Arctic tales like Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette and Peter Geye’s Northernmost, Migrations portrays a woman whose tragic life yields profound wisdom.

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Reminiscent of adventurous Arctic tales like Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette and Peter Geye’s Northernmost, Migrations portrays a woman whose tragic life yields profound wisdom.

Abandoned by her mother as a child, Franny struggles with a sense of home but easily identifies with the sea and with birds. She is constantly searching for her lost mother, and along the way, she meets a professor-activist fighting mass extinction from his teaching post in Galway, Ireland. They marry, but Franny continues to roam, haunted by her past. Following a stint in prison, she travels to Greenland without her husband. There, she convinces the captain of a fishing ship to take her aboard, as the Arctic terns she tracks on their last migration can lead the crew to what might be the last schools of fish. Together, this crew creates an unlikely family of restless souls.

Details of Franny’s story emerge in unpredictable blips, like the tiny flashing lights of the bird-tracking devices that Franny and the crew watch on her laptop. Toggling back and forth in time and from place to place, the plot floats through gut-wrenching vignettes of Franny’s escapades, strung together like clues on a life-or-death scavenger hunt. Her life is a series of calamities, some of which she causes. It’s unclear whether she’s migrating from or to something.

Whether she’s in Australia, Trondheim, Greenland, Galway, Scotland, Yellowstone or Antarctica, Franny’s unsettled heart sets the scene. She’s endeared to the fishing crew, but they are also the enemy; she is a vegetarian, a lover and protector of wild animals, among whose numbers she counts herself as both predator and prey. The narrative, set in an unspecified future time, resides on the suspenseful, razor-thin edge between her extremes.

Although Franny may not know where home is, she is home to conflicting truths. Prepare to mourn a bleak image of the future and to embrace an everlasting hope in Franny’s heroic example.

 

ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: Charlotte McConaghy on finding hope amid humanity’s destructive impact on the earth.

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Migrations

Migrations

Flatiron
ISBN 9781250204028

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