Far Side of the Sea is captivating, filled with loss, fear, sadness, uncertainty, and love. Kate Breslin does a great job of making her readers not only understand the characters, but fall in love with them. From the first sentence, the audience can feel Colin's pain from the war. Breslin gives her readers a glimpse of Colin's nightmare. But that's all she gives you. A glimpse. It leaves the audience questioning, wondering. What exactly happened? How did he get buried alive? How did he even survive? But not only does the readers get to experience that pain, but they also feel the shame that Colin lives with from losing his arm. Although his protege, Albert Goodfellow, means well by offering to help Colin get dressed, Colin is embarrassed and sends the young man away. From just these first few pages, the author helps the audience understand the effects that the war had on the people during that time.
Kate Breslin also takes her time introducing her characters, which helps her be able to develop each of their backstories, so that the audience can get a sense of who each person is and why they are where they are as the story begins. The only problem is, it makes the book slow. It takes almost seventeen chapters for the story to really get going. Up until that point, the two main characters-Johanna and Colin-are pretty much just planning what they're going to do. It seems that all they do is go out together for meals until that point. But despite this, Kate Breslin still does an excellent job of making the book a page-turner. She drops hints for the plot quite frequently, making the reader curious and begging to know more.
One of my most personal favorite scenes of this book (spoiler alert!) was when Johanna sees her father for the first time in sixteen years. The reader is at first heart-broken when he doesn't even recognize his daughter, but as the realization slowly dawns on him, the reader can't help but tear up. Kate Breslin really pulls at the audience's emotions at this reunion.
But the best aspect of this book is the incorporation of God's grace. Johanna struggles with finding it, unsure of miracles and how God can be a friend to her. As a Christian, I understand what Johanna was going through. Sometimes, it is hard to see God and His grace. It's sometimes hard to see the miracles that He performs every day in our lives. But it's a good reminder to all of us.
In the end, Johanna realizes God's grace, and finds love in Colin Mabry. An ending we were all expecting, since it is a romance novel. But it is one that gives the reader hope and leaves her satisfied.