I went to the dentist today for that temporary crown. I’ve decided I don’t want to relive the experience through this blog, so I’m going to give you a book review instead.
One of the books the Purple Lady loaned me is Michelle Richmond’s The Year of Fog. There’s a quote on the cover from People magazine that calls it “Gripping.” That’s it. Just one word. Well, I don’t know what “gripping” means to you, but I knew better than to expect some sort of edge-of-your-seat thriller; however, after reading it, I have to say that “gripping” is the perfect word. The story is so beautifully written, and you become so invested in the outcome that you can’t stop reading.
Here are the basics, without giving anything away:
One foggy day, photographer Abby is out walking along the beach with her fiance’s six-year-old daughter, and the daughter disappears into the fog while Abby is busy photographing a baby seal. This happens right at the beginning of the book. From this point on, Abby is obsessed with remembering every detail of that morning, convinced that there has to be one tiny detail lost within the fog of her memory that will provide the clue they need to find Emily. Each time she revisits the memory, she finds another piece to add to the puzzle. Of course, most people can’t access specific memories as precisely as locating a file in a well-ordered records room, and Abby is no different. As she tries to remember that fateful day, she pulls up other seemingly random memories from her life before she even met Emily. Each of these pieces from various different puzzles adds a piece to the larger puzzle that is Abby.
Chapter four consists of two memories: one from ninth-grade math class and the other from a third-grade lesson about time. Both memories seem to be almost complete opposites. Math was taught by Dr. Thomas Swayze, an exhilarating and shady character who was rumored to have received his doctorate through the mail, while Abby’s third grade teacher is the sweet Mrs. Monk with her ample, motherly waist. Yet, in Abby’s mind, these memories become blended, entertwined. Pi times radius squared equals the area of a circle. Time is a continuum, stretching forward and back infinitely. I learned these things in school.
The chapter ends with my favorite passage:
“How do we measure the area of a circle?” Dr. Swayze asked.
I imagine that the circle begins as a cosmic pinpoint, small as the body of a child. The child is stooped on the beach, reaching for a sand dollar. A tall figure appears in the fog. A hand clamps over the child’s mouth, a strong arm lifts her up. With each step the stranger takes, the circle widens. With each second, the area of possibility grows.
Where is the child? The answer lies within a maddening equation: pi times radius squared.
If there weren’t so many other books on my to-read list, I’d probably visit this one again. Maybe I will anyway, but not right away. I need some distance first.