Waves is the debut novel from writer and poet, Jared A. Carnie, and was published last September by Urbane Publications. It follows the story of a young man by the name of Alex. After his long-term girlfriend breaks up with him, his life and its planned trajectory, take a nosedive. With the future he thought he knew, and thought he wanted, taken away from him he is understandably heart broken. In steps his childhood friend, James, who invites him to tag along on his annual visit to his parents' home on the Isle of Lewis. Alex is reluctant at first but James does not take no for an answer, and Alex soon finds himself on a journey of self-discovery in the Outer Hebrides.
Let's forget for a second that when reading this book I learned that Donald J. Trump's mother was from the Isle of Lewis, and not let that taint the beauty of the far flung Scottish island, because Lewis is as much a character as any human in this story. Carnie really makes it sing with rich, candid descriptions of the rugged, historical landscape. Other than being the origin of Trump's mother, I know precisely fuck all about the Outer Hebrides, nor seen photographs of it, but I almost feel as if I have spent time there myself thanks entirely to Waves.
The character of Alex is at times somewhat of a damp squib, and I often found myself wanting to reach into the page, give him a slap and yell at him to grow a pair. Then I'd remember what a pathetic mess I have been after break-ups and cut him some slack. However it seems that Alex was always kind of a damp squib, even when in a relationship. Living at home with his mother and working a job he hates, saving up every penny he can for his "future" with a girlfriend that is away at university. By his own admission he had over-committed to the relationship in an attempt to convince himself it was what he wanted, rather than attempt to find out what it really is that he wants from life.
Finding out what you really want from life is no easy thing, and if you're thinking that knocking about on a freezing cold Scottish island for a week is going to solve all of your problems, you're dead wrong. By the end of the story Alex still doesn't know what he really wants from life, but he is one step closer to knowing what he doesn't want, and that is half the battle.
My only criticism would be that I found it a teeny tiny bit dull in places. I would have enjoyed a touch more conflict, even if it was just of the superficial, Tom Foolery kind. Aside from that Waves is a fulfilling, introspective read, and I found that it had an unexpected a calming effect as I read it. Almost as if I could hear the waves crashing against the shore in the background.
Grab a copy of Waves from Urbane Publications.
Check out my interview with author Jared A. Carnie.
And check out these sweet "inspirational memes" that I made from quotes from the book.