Monday, February 25, 2013

P. C. Zick Presents Fascinating Family Drama While Highlighting Environmental Issues!

A beach after an oil spill.
A beach after an oil spill. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
"News reports on Deepwater Horizon--early May
"Wildlife experts and volunteers continued to prepare for the worst as April
gave way to May. Uncertainty in the movement of the Gulf Stream caused
emergency operations to open in Tampa and Miami with an eye on the North Carolina coast as a possible area where the slick might move if the
winds continued. As the wildlife struggled, another uncertainty loomed.
Hurricane season started June 1 and lasted for six months. Questions
swirled about "what if?"
"By the first week of May, two weeks after the Deepwater Horizon explosion, dead sea turtles began washing up on the beaches near Pass
Christian, Mississippi. Beach walkers discovered the stranded animals on
sand darkened by the blood seeping from the turtles' nostrils and
"The Sea Mammal Studies in Gulfport, Mississippi, opened a special lab-
oratory to hold twenty-three loggerhead, leatherback, and Kemp's Ridley
carcasses awaiting necropsies..."
Trails in the Sand

By P. C. Zick

Zick's latest novel is totally different than my earlier read--Live From the Road--Click over to my review if you haven't read it yet. I loved that one, but her latest is more serious, more "today's headlines" and more drama that shares a contemporary love story like no other I've read... It is a novel that covers three generations and shows the dark side of things learned through and from our ancestors. An important book in several ways.

The main character, Caroline Carlisle is an environmental writer. She also has a marine biologist degree which has served to ensure her acceptance and respect from those with whom she works. Zick chose to use turtles as the focus of her story, tying it into the family background; however, the news coverage could have been related to all ocean life affected...

By oil spills...

“Everything’s going to work out,” Gladdy said. “You’ll see. Daddy will forget all about it once he goes back to work on Monday.”
“He’s not going to forget, Gladdy. Not this,” Alex said. “And neither will I. Do you think you can forget it ever happened?”
“I can try. You can try. Let’s just put it out of our minds as if it never happened. Please, Alex. We have to.”
“It won’t work. It’s hopeless,” Alex said.
“Look,” Gladdy poked her brother who was older by ten months.
She pointed to the edge of the shoreline only feet away from where they sat on the sand. The light from the rising moon illuminated the beach in a soft white bath.
“It’s a loggerhead,” Alex said as a sea turtle lumbered out of the ocean and laboriously began its march to the dune line. “You can tell by its big head.”
“I bet it’s going to lay eggs,” Gladdy whispered.
They sat motionless as the turtle, not more than fifty feet away, pulled itself through the sand. The loggerhead moved slowly but steadily, using first the front right and then the left rear flippers to pull it forward. Then it repeated the action with the other diagonal flippers. Its march from the sea was distinct from the other species of turtles that came ashore in Florida to lay eggs. The green turtle, Kemp’s ridley, the leatherback, and the hawksbill also laid their eggs on the beaches of the peninsula, but loggerheads were by far the most numerous.
The female loggerhead, so graceful as it floated and swam in the ocean, now tromped through the sand dragging nearly 300 pounds of body weight. Every few minutes, it would stop and dig its snout into the sand.
“She’s testing the temperature,” Alex said. “That’s exactly how it was described in that book Daddy threw in the trash tonight.”
Alex read any book he could find about the ocean. Archie Carr just published a book about the sea turtles, and Alex checked the book out of the library in Calico, where the Stokleys lived, before they came to St. George Island for the summer. He’d received special permission to keep it for three months. When his father came to the dinner table that night and saw Alex sitting with his elbows on the table and The Windward Road propped up on his glass of milk, Arthur Stokley snatched the book and walked out through the kitchen to the back porch and threw it in the trash.
“We do not read at the table,” Dr. Stokley said when he returned. “You have the manners of a heathen and the sense of a moron. You never fail to disappoint me...”
“I’m up to 82,” Gladdy said. “There’s 83 and 84.”
After counting 124 eggs, they watched as the sea turtle filled in the cavity with its rear flippers and then swept the area in an effort to disguise what lay beneath the surface.
When the turtle finished her job, nearly two hours after she came from the sea, she began the slow return back to the ocean. Alex rose from the sand and followed the loggerhead.
“Alex, what are you doing? You can’t go swimming after dark – the undertow is too strong.”
“Did you know sea turtles always return to lay their eggs on the beach where they were hatched?” Alex said as he walked backwards into the sea following the trail of the female loggerhead. “The eggs will hatch in about two months, Gladdy. Be sure to come down here every night and wait for them to emerge so you can help them go home. Remember 124 eggs and remember the location.”
Alex turned toward the ocean and kept walking until the sea engulfed him, and he went under.
“Alex, come back,” Gladdy yelled out over the surf, but the only answer came from the sound of the waves lapping the beach. “We’ll find a way.”
Gladdy pulled the corners of the tablecloth up around her shoulders and waited for her brother to reappear. The waves came back to shore time after time, but as she sat transfixed in her spot on the beach, Alex never returned with them. ~~~
Readers will learn about not only the oil spill disaster but a coal mine disaster in West Virginia... Moving back and forth between the disasters to the family life affected by each of those disasters presents an extremely engaging interplay between the news that many of us just hear about, to those lives that are involved. This adds much greater depth to Zick's book in my opinion.

The Prologue begins in 1956 within Caroline's mother's life. She and her brother had been close, having the same interests and love for being out of doors. Alex loved the sea and they had gone out to sit one night when a loggerhead had crawled on shore to lay her eggs. Some internal instinct led them back to the shores where they were born as well... (This later plays a major role in the oil spill damage control)

That night when the loggerhead had finished and went back into the ocean, Alex had followed and followed her into the sea.

Gladdy had sat there watching, waiting for him to come back--until she realized he wasn't coming.. .

It was after that that Gladdy changed and when she married and had two children, she chose to ignore Caroline and Caroline had always wondered why... Caroline and her sister had never really gotten along either, especially with her mother constantly pitting the two against each other. Fortunately, Caroline had her father to support her as much as possible, but sometimes what he said was just as confusing, because he would never explain why he was willing to defend her mother.

Now, Caroline is married to Simon, her childhood friend, with whom she'd been in love since they met as children. But this is her third marriage and Simon's second... And Simon's first wife had been Caroline's sister... A little complicated? You don't know the half of it, as they say... Because.when her mother dies, Caroline finds journals that her mother had kept to herself--from her grandfather, from Alex and from Gladdy.

The truth is slowly coming out, but is it too late? Sometimes families keep secrets, thinking it will protect the family name and the individuals. But when those secrets have changed the lives of those involved? Can finding out the truth ever make it right again?

Zick has done an excellent job spotlighting the safety issues caused, normally, by the "bottom-line emphasis" routinely chosen by corporations. At the same time, she has created a set of characters that come alive, as if you are right there in the midst of the family discussions, or should I say arguments? Can love make it through when family members totally opposes the love between two people? Zick has certainly made the love between her two main characters strong enough. But...

This family tree has so many limbs that there is no way to follow unless you're reading the novel. I highly advise that you do. The drama is superb--intense, unbelievable in ways you least would expect and surprising in how much you may see issues that have occurred in your own family. Highly recommended!


About the Author
P.C. Zick’s career as a writer began in 1998 with the publication of her first column in a local paper. By day, she was a high school English teacher, but at night and on vacations, she began writing novels and working as a freelance journalist. By 2001, she left teaching and began pursuing a full-time gig as a writer. She describes herself as a "storyteller" no matter the genre. Currently, she writes two blogs. Trails in the Sand is her fifth novel and the second one self-published. She published Live from the Road in May 2012. Her blog and her novels contain the elements most dear to her heart, ranging from love to the environment. She believes in living lightly upon this earth with love, laughter, and passion. She resides in Pennsylvania with her husband Robert.

An important song used in novel...provided for your enjoyment.
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1 comment:

  1. Glenda, Thank you so much for your thoughtful and thorough review of Trails in the Sand. It brought me to tears because you understood the very important messages I attempted to convey through the themes running through the novel.