Sydney has quietly kept her head down for years, a homebody caring for her elderly mother and working a steady but unrewarding job as a proofreader. But now her mother is dead, the company she works for seems to be falling apart, and she might even lose her home. In the midst of all this, eleven-year-old runaway Phoebe shows up in her kitchen – will this be the last straw, or a chance to break out of old patterns and find new reasons to go on living?
WATER IS WIDER is a sweet and thoroughly heartwarming story, with enough wry, quirky humor to keep it from being overly sappy. Sydney is timid and rather passive, but she has enough personality and sense to be likeable nonetheless, and watching her develop her strength and stretch her limits in order to help Phoebe is both satisfying and inspiring. Phoebe’s fierce determination and warmth of heart makes it hard not to root for her, and the author manages to make her frustration with her stepmother Adele real and believable while not resorting to the “evil stepmother” cliche or unfairly demonizing Adele. The drama going on at Poppy Press, Sydney’s workplace, provides a dose of humor both cynical and farcical, as political manipulations and gossip at all levels add to the sense of chaotic collapse and send events spiraling out of control. The subtle nastiness of office politics is on full display here, enough to resonate with any reader who’s ever had to deal with difficult co-workers, office gossip, or uncaring management.
Author Marie Green McKeon maintains just enough lightness of touch and tone to keep the reader, and Sydney, from the profound depression her situation might otherwise inspire, while also keeping enough suspense and drama to give us real sympathy for Sydney and Phoebe and a real emotional stake in what happens to them. McKeon captures perfectly the stunned feeling of walking around in a fog not knowing quite what to do while the world collapses around you, with all of the avoidance mechanisms and “this can’t be happening” emotions that people feel during such times–and that makes it all the more appealing when some of the more sympathetic characters (not just Sydney) stand up and say, “No, I’m done with this,” and take the actions they need to take to cut through that fog. It also makes it funnier when chance and insanity take their own part in the story, as well–there’s enough of both to keep the story as quirky as it is sweet. All in all, this is a pleasant and diverting read with enough solid heart to it to give it real substance.
WATER IS WIDER by Marie Green McKeon is a quirky, charming story about new beginnings in the face of loss and despair, with a heartwarming message and sympathetic characters.
~Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader