Book Review: A Marker to Measure Drift

A young Liberian woman, Jacqueline, who has escaped the civil war to Greece, is on her own in a strange new place. No food, no home, no money, she is forced to make her way on an island where it is not certain if she will be greeted with pity and hospitality or by suspicion or even harm. To escape the haunting memories of what she left behind, Jacqueline focuses instead on her most basic and sensory needs: protection from the sun, water, a bath, enough food to make it through the day, and dignity. But it is these solely physical feelings that drag her back through the vivid nightmare of what she is trying to forget, each relief from an ailment bringing flashbacks of sensory equivalence from home. Her companion when she needs it the least, is her mother’s nagging voice in her head, or is it exactly what she needed to hear to keep her in check? Jacqueline’s story is one that brings to question whether it is better to strive to forget what has hurt us with a blissful facade or to confront them head on and tackle them with all our consciousness.

I found Maksik’s novel quite simple to read. You’re never confused as to where she is in time or place and the prose is not strewn out, but rather choppy. It does follow her conscious thoughts with very little dialogue with the occasional banter with her mother’s voice inside her head, but who doesn’t have that going on. The story, although not a light one does have a satisfactory ending that left me content. I found Jacqueline to be a strong female protagonist that although we don’t see her rise out of the ashes like a phoenix, she certainly prevailed by leaving safely from a doomed fate. I didn’t love it but I certainly didn’t hate it. I thought it was a good read and for some reason I keep picking up stories about refugees or people who have escaped from civil unrest, which I find enlightening. I enjoy books that transport me into different cultures. Is that not one of the joys of reading: To experience countries and cultures without actually leaving our homes?

Has anyone else had the chance to read A Marker to Measure Drift? Any thoughts? (Goodreads link through the title if you would like to read another synopsis and/or reviews)

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