By Ekta R. Garg
May 26, 2021
Genre: Women’s fiction
Release date: May 25, 2021
Rated: Bookmark it! / 4 stars
A young woman becomes a widow, and all of the town’s inhabitants go along with her delusion that her husband is still alive. When a journalist comes to the island searching for a story, he discovers one he never saw coming. Author Colleen Oakley offers warmth, romance, genuine affection, and kind characters in her newest novel The Invisible Husband of Frick Island.
The lifelong residents of Frick Island divide people into two groups: From Here, meaning those who belong to the island, and Come Here, those who migrated to it. While the residents treat everyone with politeness, the Come Heres have often felt a small difference. All of them except Piper Parrish, that is.
Piper and her scientist mother came to Frick Island when Piper was in the sixth grade. In the beginning, the other kids in school singled her out as a Come Here. When Tom stood up for her, though, people stopped bothering her. Through the years, her sunny disposition won them over to the point that they forgot—or forgave—her Come Here status and adopted her as a From Here. Tom did more than that, however; he fell head over heels in love with Piper, and she returned his love with eagerness.
It didn’t surprise anyone that they got married young. Piper loves Frick Island, and Tom’s family has always been in the crab business. Tom took it up like his relatives, but he also feels a little restless. Piper keeps him steady, and he challenges her in the best of ways. As corny as it sounds, they’re meant for one another.
When Tom’s crab boat capsizes during bad weather, then, everyone in town understands Piper’s longing to grieve. When she starts talking to Tom as if he’s still there—telling everyone she needs to help Tom with his tie for church, say, or that she’s going out to the beach to meet his boat when it comes in the way she did before the accident—no one has the heart to correct her. In fact, they go one step further.
Anders Caldwell moved to Maryland from Atlanta hoping for a break in his journalism career. The proximity to New York and his pluck were all he needed for big things to happen. Except Anders is stuck covering the dumb stories no one wants, like a Cake Walk on Frick Island, which he’s never heard of and where he really doesn’t want to go. The only way to get to the Island is by ferry, and Anders hates being on the water.
His editor doesn’t give him a choice, though, and Anders makes his way to the island expecting to see a bunch of cakes and gawking tourists. What he finds is an entire town of people pretending to see a dead man. They actually call out to Tom as if he’ll respond, leaving Anders incredibly confused at first.
The more questions Anders asks, the more an idea burns inside of him: what if he starts a podcast about the town and this bizarre situation? What harm could it do anyway? The town doesn’t even have a cell phone tower, and internet speeds are actually crawls. Maybe this will be the feature story that will catapult him toward success.
As Anders comes back every weekend to interview Frick Island residents and spend time with Piper, he finds out just how far the From Heres will go to protect their own. He also discovers something more valuable than his next big career move.
Author Colleen Oakley handles her situations and characters with a practiced hand. While in theory it might seem a tad precious that Piper gets married so young, within the context of the story world it makes complete sense. Piper’s grief and her longing for Tom will endear her to readers. Both ring true and loud for anyone who has lost a loved one.
Oakley’s plot stays well within the realm of its genre but doesn’t come off as saccharine. Moments meant to be solemn maintain their dignity. Those meant for a laugh will make readers chuckle. With the exception of the dialogue that comes off as unrealistic at times, the book leads its target audience through the entire range of emotions with precision. I recommend readers Bookmark The Invisible Husband of Frick Island.