Reviewed by Booked In Chico -a blog about books and bookish events that happen in the Northstate of California. Written by a Master's student in Literature who graduates May 2011. Also enjoy her cliché memoir rants about grad school! Follow on Twitter @BookedinChico
I would first like to thank both Lori of TNBBC and LeapFrog PressThe Ghost Trap. Lori posted via Twitter a giveaway for Stephens' book, and I thought I should try to win a copy. I was finishing my thesis and was in a crisis mode as to what I would do with my life after my MA in English Literature. I, then, started to put together a book blog to keep me going through the remaining hardships of writing a thesis. So here I am, about to review my first book for my blog.
K . Stephens’s The Ghost Trap places the reader immediately on a lobster boat in a bay of Maine’s coast. The novel takes us through the journey of a lobsterman, Jamie Eugley, which encapsulates the trial and tribulations—both of his job and of his life. Soon the reader realizes that there is a trap war between Jamie and other lobstermen. From the trap war to low numbers of lobsters, Jamie must balance it all. Alliances form out on the freezing and rocky water of Maine: the moral and family man Jamie and longtime friend Thongchai versus the immoral and scamming Fogerty family. The trap wars, however, are just one of his many issues, because at home he must affectionately support his live-in girlfriend, Anja, who is recovering from a massive brain injury. We meet Anja three years after her accident, where she is progressing but still in great need of assistance. Anja needs constant supervision and Post-its, which becomes rather draining on both Jamie and his supportive mother, Donna. Stephens wonderfully depicts Jamie’s real-life tensions, which encourage the reader to keep turning the pages. I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Ghost Trap, and, at times, I couldn’t put it down. Jamie’s complicated life made me want to both judge and sympathize with him, which is an incredible feat for an author to accomplish. Some of Jamie’s decisions, such as his newly formed friendship with seasonal pirate entertainer, Happy, made me extremely angry. I, literally, wanted to jump into the story and shake Jamie; his friendship irked me much like Max and Pammy in the United States of TaraSeason Three. Why would you form that kind of a relationship now after all of this time? But I kept with Jamie because he handles so much between Anja’s needs and his financial hardships. I had to ask myself what would I do? This helped me to sympathize with Jamie’s character. Stephens forces her readers to examine the whole picture as she complicates initial judgments. In the end, I absolutely loved Jamie’s character; once I read the final chapter, I couldn’t help but feel for him and Anja.
The Ghost Trap is the first book that has ever made me tear up—not because of it being sappy but its closeness to reality. Stephens writes fiction that goes beyond the pages and ventures into exploring life’s ailments with both passion and reality. And thus, I recommend this book to everyone with one minor warning—that missing shot of espresso. Stephens, for the most part, uses her style and tone to extend the images she describes using physical and visceral language; however, there are moments sprinkled throughout where Stephens’s lyrical language detracts from the novel. These moments forced me out of the novel to decipher the meaning—not out of confusion but out of visual space. I mean that some of the visceral description talking about a character’s hands will quickly jump to the character’s eyebrows where the language becomes much more lyrical. These quick movements from one space to another are at times jarring for the reader. Though lyrical language is usually praised by peers, in say a creative writing class; a novel that maintains a particular language throughout makes it much more compelling and engaging to read. That being said, I give K. Stephens’ The Ghost Trap 4 shots of espresso. The Ghost Trap is a rather promising Red Eye novel!
Columns about the sub-culture of lobstering that K. Stephens has collaborated on with Maine lobstermen and guest bloggers.