A Review of Patricia Zick’s, Trails in the Sand
A new release by Patricia Zick, recently promoted through her book tour.
Patricia Zick is a woman of conviction and passion where environmental issues are concerned. So much so, that she weaves these issues into the books she writes to help her readership acquire not only the facts of some of these destructive events, but also metaphorically how the struggles of creatures in the wild are not unlike our own. Trails in the Sand, the title’s image, refers to the tracks sea turtles leave on the beach as they haul their massive bodies across the sand to nest where they were born, completing an ancient and unbroken instinctual choice for survival, not unlike the attempts of the Stokley family to come full circle to a place of original harmony.
Author Zick creates a character in Caroline Carlisle who can speak to matters of the environment that are also concerns of P.C. Zick. The character, like Zick, is a determined environmentalist and freelance journalist who pursues through the course of the book two different environmental disasters: Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch mining tragedy in West Virginia and the BP DeepWater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. These two incidents act as one web of activity in the novel where the reader comes to know Caroline as a competent professional, comfortable with her abilities and choices. Her love of the Florida wilds attracts her to a project that arises out of the gulf oil spill — moving loggerhead turtle eggs from the Florida Panhandle beaches where they had already been deposited prior to and during the oil spill, to Atlantic beaches where the hatchlings won’t encounter oil-coated water as they enter the sea.
But then there is, in today’s parlance, the other Caroline, the child of a damaged and damaging mother, who singles Caroline out as the daughter on whom she projects the brutality she experienced from her own father, Arthur Stokley, a character who is a strange mix of the heroic and heartless.
To add to the irony, the one person Caroline is drawn to and loves beyond question is Simon, a childhood sweetheart, who ends up marrying Caroline’s sister, Amy. The sisters were never close and this final turn, results in Caroline’s break with her family many years prior to when this story takes place.
The other web in which most of the characters in the book live, except Caroline’s longtime friend, Holly, is one characterized by a startling compilation of secrets. No one person is privy to the complete and true history of the Stokley family, so this lack of understanding exacts painful tolls on many of the family members.
The reader is drawn through the story by the allusion to these secrets, the seeming only thing that will make sense out of the behaviors and choices the Stokley family members exhibit. The secrets come to light in bits and pieces as different family members find or stumble upon personal journals written by those long gone.
Like the sea turtles, Caroline keeps going back to her family of birth trying to bring about a relationship that could bring harmony to this fractious group. Just when you think all has been revealed, the book takes one final twist to produce more surprises, but all in the name of love and union of a family that’s known little of that for many years.
Pat Zick is a woman who walks her talk. As well, she encourages other writers to join her in including in their works of fiction some sort of reference to the environment both to continue to awaken people to our interconnection with the natural world and to remind us of our responsibility for stewardship toward it .
Visit Patricia’s blog, Living Lightly, and enjoy her stories and observations told in her frank, honest, yet caring manner.