REVIEW: My Last Continent

my_last_continentBOOK: My Last Continent
AUTHOR: Midge Raymond
PAGES: 320
PUBLISHER: Scribner
MY RATING: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ (5/5)

It is only at the end of the world—among the glacial mountains, cleaving icebergs, and frigid waters of Antarctica—where Deb Gardner and Keller Sullivan feel at home. For the few blissful weeks they spend each year studying the habits of emperor and Adélie penguins, Deb and Keller can escape the frustrations and sorrows of their separate lives and find solace in their work and in each other. But Antarctica, like their fleeting romance, is tenuous, imperiled by the world to the north.

A new travel and research season has just begun, and Deb and Keller are ready to play tour guide to the passengers on the small expedition ship that ferries them to their research destination. But this year, Keller fails to appear on board. Then, shortly into the journey, Deb’s ship receives an emergency signal from the Australis, a cruise liner that has hit desperate trouble in the ice-choked waters of the Southern Ocean. Soon Deb’s role will change from researcher to rescuer; among the crew of that sinking ship, Deb learns, is Keller.

As Deb and Keller’s troubled histories collide with this catastrophic present, Midge Raymond’s phenomenal novel takes us on a voyage deep into the wonders of the Antarctic and the mysteries of the human heart. My Last Continent is packed with emotional intelligence and high stakes—a harrowing, searching novel of love and loss in one of the most remote places on earth, a land of harsh beauty where even the smallest missteps have tragic consequences—“Half adventure, half elegy, and wholly recommended”

MY REVIEW:
I received an advanced reading copy of this publication in exchange for an honest review.

Every now and then a book comes along that is just a little something different, and it completely blows you away. My Last Continent is one of those books.

The story takes place mainly in Antarctica, a place I’ve never had much interest in, personally. I knew two things going in – the place is damn cold, and can be damn dangerous. That’s enough to thwart my interests. But Midge Raymond has managed to completely turn my ideas around, and open my eyes to what a beautiful & peaceful continent it really is. And while I still can’t say I’m likely to ever step foot there myself, this book has left me absolutely floored and mesmerized by one of Earth’s gems.

The book is narrated by Deb Gardner, our main character. Deb is a researcher who travels Antarctica to gather all the information she can on the different species of penguins and wildlife that inhabit the land. While society has certainly painted the arctic to be a barren and lonely place, it is here where Deb feels most at peace with herself. It is her home.

Over the years a romance has developed between Deb and another volunteer she has met on her travels, named Keller. Deb and Keller both have their own sets of baggage, and their relationship is a little complicated – connecting when they are working, but going home to their separate lives. Each season the two reconnect and are drawn together, much like the penguins they are so fond of.

On this particular trip, however, the two are faced with a crisis when a cruise ship gets a little too off its course and hits ice during its tourist travels. Faced with an emergency situation so far from the rest of the world, Deb fears their lives could be changed forever.

This book has you on the edge of your seat throughout. It’s such an emotional journey. I don’t think I have felt so close to a character like Deb in such a long time. The language in this novel is so eloquent, the smaller stories within the larger story reads so poetically. Raymond has done such a phenomenal job painting the beauty of this continent, and putting it into a way we can all understand.

I love the relationship between Deb and Keller. It just feels so real. It’s not perfect. The two come with their own emotional baggage, but they make things work the best they can, the only way they know how. Each of their meetings was like a precious gift, and it really drives home the end of this book for you.

“I reach over and touch his hand, still wrapped around the glass, his skin rough and wind-chapped, and I think of how Antarctica toughens you up, how maybe this was what he wanted – maybe this is what we all want – to build calluses over old wounds.”

I also really like how this book managed to be informative and bring awareness to issues that effect our Earth and Antarctica as well, but in a way that didn’t feel preachy. This beautiful portrait she paints of Antarctica will have you feeling just a tad guilty, but the right amount to want to make some positive change so we can preserve such a wondrous place; touching on topics like over fishing, global warming, and effects of tourism.

If you’re looking for the next book to sweep you off your feet, pick up My Last Continent. You won’t be disappointed.

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