Off-Island is book I have come to enjoy more than I initially expected. It deals with the emotional trauma of young adult, unplanned pregnancy and abortion and I was really curious on how I would perceive the story. Please keep that in mind, if this is a trigger for you.
Krista is a young woman that never had to care for a thing in her life with respect to her survival. She lives in the family building, the one that belongs to her wealthy grandfather, who keeps the top floor. Her boyfriend also lives in an apartment there, while she is in the middle floor with her mother. Her mother is often away from New York City, on book tours or author signing events, but Krista doesn’t mind. She has her dancing to focus on. But that can be a bit of a pressure for her.
So, when one day she decides to put her dancing career on hold, it is the time for a new beginning for her. She feels free. She feels as if she can now live without having to obey to her teacher’s rules, to have so much discipline, to wake up early every morning and beat herself up to dancing everyday. But her freedoms is threatened when she realises that she is pregnant. Michael, her boyfriend, is happy with the fact and he immediately proposes to marry her, but Krista wants to decide for herself. Her mother has told her many times, that if abortion was legal when she got pregnant to Krista, she would have done it without a second thought. She never wanted that baby and she believes that every woman should be allowed to make her own minds when it comes to their body. She has always supported that thought and wanted Krista to be able to decide for herself.
Her decision to go forward with the abortion is one that will unsettle her relationship with Michael. He will try to support her in any way he can, but she will choose to isolate him. Her view of the procedure is one she has found on a book her mother insisted she reads some years ago. The book said it was going to be a quick and painless procedure. But this was not the experience Krista had after all.
Affected by her mother’s influence, Krista tried to take her life into her own hands, though she could not really know what it meant. She took a decision based on the facts she had, but the facts were not true as she came to realize afterwards. Being in an emotional state, she tried to make amends with herself and stay away from everyone. She remembered her grandmother’s house in Martha’s Vineyard island and how happy she was there. So she decides to go there, without having decided what she’ll do there. But she needs to be close to a place she loved, close to her memories of the past, those of her late grandmother and father.
It is easy for someone to understand that Krista is a very young girl and that she does not have a very clear view of the world and her actions. She has been living in her own thoughts, the world she had built inside her mind, full of memories. She daydreams about her father, when she was three years old and he was still alive and they would fly above the island, close to her grandmother’s home. She had given him a promise, to look after the shell he gave her until he comes back from his test flight. But he never returned and Krista never got over it.
So when she returns to the summer house, she has a mental discussion with her late grandmother that helps her clarify her thoughts and her needs and finally what she wants to do and what she should be doing. This is easy, because, even though her grandmother doesn’t live anymore, Krista knows her all too well to know what she would be telling her, if she was alive. But at the end of the road, she realizes that there are a few things she doesn’t know about her grandmother. Which is not a bad thing, as it helps her find herself.
Overall, it was a book I really enjoyed, despite the difficult subject.