Marlene Hauser is a professional writer who lives in Oxford and a member of the Society of Authors. She has edited The Writer's New York City Source Book and served as Associate Producer on Under the Influence, a CBS TV movie. She also holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University.
'Krista Bourne has always been surrounded by the strength, love and wealth of her family and their homes in New York City and Martha’s Vineyard. She has never had to think for herself. Living with boyfriend Michael and her elderly grandfather, she can also summon up the comforting ghosts of her beloved father and grandmother. In vivid dreams she flies with her pilot father, and when awake remembers idyllic childhood holidays spent with her bohemian grandmother. When Krista impulsively walks out on her career as a professional dancer, it is the beginning of a new chapter in her life. She feels unsettled and excited by the sense of imminent change around her. This feeling turns to panic, then fear when she realises that she is pregnant and is uncertain whether or not she wants to keep the baby, bringing her and Michael to a crossroads in their relationship. Adamant that she alone must deal with the situation, Krista rejects all offers of support from him, isolating her at a time when she most needs help. Krista’s journey and emotional upheaval take her back to her summer home on Martha’s Vineyard, where she is surprised to find out that she does not know her family history quite as well as she imagined.'
Marlene Hauser portrays a passionate main protagonist, I feel Off-Island gives an emotional insight into just one women’s voice about the trials of life. Although set in the eighties it does resonate with the tough choices women face today. The storyline is a bit choppy but this adds to the idea and effect that Krista is suffering with inner turmoil and the decisions that she has to make alone. Krista is a highly complex character with some of her life’s decisions leading her to regret how some people were hurt by her actions. ‘Off-Island’ ultimately is a book about hard choices and the repercussions that sometimes come with them. We gain a lot of emotional empathy for Krista in Marlene’s fantastic writing of such a complex character. Krista is highly likeable as we learn about her dilemma’s.
An enjoyable book. I found it was slower to start, but once I really got into it, I enjoyed it. Off-Island gives readers a perfect snapshot of NYC and Martha’s Vineyard in particular. With several highly emotive events happening, Marlene Hauser portrays a cast of characters that successfully help Krista and help her through her turmoil. It is a sensitive read that covers topics of abortion and young pregnancy. I think it gives credit to Marlene that she chose to write about such difficult topics, in a very thoughtful way.
Overall, I would highly recommend Off-Island. Originally I was drawn into the original premise of Krista deciding her own fate and trying to take control of her life, it was empowering to read. The depictions of individuals and NYC as a whole, ontribute to the atmospheric writing and how deeply we fall for the lives of the characters and wanting to know more. Read Off-Island if you want to read a realistic and honest insight into a characters life, that is well-written.