After a long day traveling from Arizona back home to Ohio (I got up at 4:30, and we were got back to our Ohio home around 5:00), we shunned all New Year’s Eve plans and stayed home. After adjusting and relaxing, I sat down with a glass of wine and mindlessly wandered through social media.
After two glasses of wine, I should have gone to bed. I was very tired. Instead, I found myself tearing up over New Year’s thoughts and wishes, and pictures of my friends near and far having fun and reliving their year. And that lead me to the following thoughts, which I put on Facebook that night (and this reminds me to write down big thoughts right when they occur to me, because this sums up my love of social media). I thought I would share it with you:
I’m exhausted and I’ve had two glasses of wine, but just wanted to tell each and every one of you posting tonight that your pictures, thoughts, and wishes are bringing tears to my eyes. Because I love how much you all love those around you–so much that you want to share pictures and stories with me (and other friends, but mostly I’m thinking about ME!), and I love how much fun you all are having.
I’m so thankful for social media in small and big ways. I love knowing that babies are being born to people I love as well as those that YOU love. I love that I know I can pray with you when you or your loved ones are sick, and that I can send you good thoughts and prayers when someone you love passes away.
You all break my heart in your hurts and make me smile in your triumphs daily. I overshare (mostly on FB), I know, but it’s because the connections make me happy.
Social media may sometimes be too much, but please keep sharing your highest highs with me, and let me know when you need a prayer or a thought or a hug.
Of course, sometimes social media connections get to be too much, and we need to step away and take stock in yourself. All-in-all, though, I like the way social media has connected me with so many people– with those sharing similar interests and concerns, with friends old and new. It keeps me connected to my past and my present, and, as someone who like to bury myself in a book or on the internet, I need that.
Any way, that’s my New Year Ode to Social Media.
Onto Simon Sylvester’s The Visitors.
When men start disappearing from the small, remote Scottish Isle of Bancree, the community is unnerved. But to 17 year-old Flora Cannan, the disappearances just mean those men did what she dreamed of–getting off the island.
Amidst all the drama, a rarity occurs: newcomers move to the island. The mysterious man is accompanied by his daughter Aisla, who turns out to be the same age as Flora. The two become friends, riding the ferry back and forth to school on the mainland.
It all changes for Flora when her stepfather’s best friend disappears. The reality begins to sink in–there’s something going on on Bancree.
Flora learns that Aisla’s father has been following a trail of missing people throughout Scotland, which has landed them on Bancree. But could they could be the cause? Is Aisla’s father a killer? Or could it be someone closer to home? Someone that she’s known for years?
Adding to the drama of the Scottish Isle is her history project–a study of the mythological Scottish Selkie. Could there be any truth to the myth, and could it have something to do with the disappearances?
Simon Sylvester’s The Visitors is a great first effort. His characters are complex and interesting, drawing readers into the story and the drama. Flora is a wonderful main character with a need many will understand: the need to get away from home, from a small town, from isolation, and to get on with her life in the big wide world. The fact that she, and the other characters, live on a Scottish isle makes them even more intriguing.
Aisla and her father are also intriguing, as they should be in the story. They are an unknown variable in Flora’s world, unknown to her and to everyone else in her world.
I also think Bancree itself is a character in the story. It’s more than just that small town inertia that many have known and felt, it’s isolation in itself. There is no reliable cell service, no television, no internet. Bancree is a different, older world trying to survive in modern times.
And the story parallels Bancree in many respects. The legend of the selkies is paramount to the story, and the question of whether the island, and the selkies, can survive at all in a modern world is at the heart of this story.
But above all of that, woven on top of the deeper story of the island, is the mystery. And this is where new author Sylvester really shines. The mystery of the disappearing men is seamlessly woven into the story of Flora, Bancree, and the selkies.
There were a few holes in the story, but mostly I found The Visitors to be a book I couldn’t put down. Flora was wonderful, and the whole book echoed the loneliness of a Scottish Isle (I would imagine). Sylvester created a mystery AND a story that sucked me in and didn’t let me go until the end.
I give this one 3.75 stars. Great story, great mystery, great characters.