Several years ago, long before I started this blog, I read a wonderful novel by Joe Coomer called “A pocketful of names“.
It had every quality that I like in fiction. The characters sprang to life off the page. The Maine island setting was atmospheric and well described. The story…. the story…. was poignant, written with a deep understanding of human nature. It was a tale of a solitary women living on an island and how the finding of a washed up dog set in motion for her many life changes. A truly human (and animal) drama.
“The first thing Hannah said to the dog: “I don’t know if there’s enough room for you on this island. I’m already here.”
Inhabiting an island off the coast of Maine, left to her by her great-uncle Arno, Hannah finds her life as a dedicated and solitary artist rudely interrupted one summer when a dog, matted with feathers and seaweed, arrives with the tide. He is only the first of a series of unexpected visitors and is soon followed by a teenager running from an abusive father, a half sister in trouble, a mainland family, and a forlorn trapped whale. In the engrossing drama that unfolds, Hannah’s love of her island solitude competes with her instinctive compassion for others.
In this booksellers’ favorite and a two-time Book Sense pick, now available in paperback, Coomer offers the rugged yet stunning beauty of Maine and the lobstermen and their families who are dependent on the sea for survival. Pocketful of Names is a deeply human tale about the unpredictability of nature, art, family, and the flotsam and jetsam that comprise our lives.
If you have the chance to read this novel, I urge you to do so. Highly recommended!
Joe Coomer is the author of several novels, most recently One Vacant Chair. He lives in Texas, where he deals in antiques, and Maine, where he restores historic homes and boats.