While I already count myself as a Marietta Miles fan from my reading of Route 12, her first book, nothing prepared me for her follow-up offering, May. This is an atmospheric masterpiece that painted my soul in a muted grey and left me praying she comes out with her next book very soon. This book dripped with a depressive, bleak feeling of imminent danger. Each page you turn forces you into a gloomier, darker, more ominous state of being. In other words, this is one of the finest books I have read in a long while.
Told in two parts, with May is a young girl and as an older battle-scarred caretaker of an island being closed down due to an impending storm, both narratives provide us glimpses of a severely broken and damaged soul.
The initial narrative offers the reader a glimpse of May’s early life. May was raised in a time where becoming pregnant without a husband at an early age is the sign of deviancy and when May finds herself impregnated during high school, she soon finds herself abandoned by her parents; left to live with her free-spirited aunt.
The second narrative follows May, beaten down by life and appearing to be on the run from parts of her life we are not yet privy to, as she traverses the island where she lives and works as a caretaker, shuttering homes and prepping them to weather the powerful storm set to slam the island. But she is also running from something or someone from her past. Around every corner are reminders of a life which went off the rails and left her with deep scars; but these scars may just be scabbed over wounds that are about to be reopened.
This book is extremely well-written. Each page and paragraph are stripped down to their barest elements and bring elicit feelings of dread and anticipation in readers. Miles has a knack for penning stories that keep me turning the pages at a finger burning pace. While Route 12 showed the promise Miles holds as an author, Miles has outdone herself with this novella. The tension she creates throughout this book is so heavy and thick you can cut it with a knife. Impossible to put down, this book is going to grab you by the throat and slowly squeeze; always allowing you enough air to keep breathing, but never enough to allow you to forget you are in its grips. Sweetness.