Stuck in Manistique by Dennis Cuesta ~ 360 pages ~ published 10/29/18 by Celestial Eyes Press
Near the midpoint of the Upper Peninsula, along a Lake Michigan bend of shore, is the town of Manistique, Michigan. Mark had never heard of Manistique before the death of his estranged aunt, but as sole beneficiary of Vivian’s estate, he travels there to settle her affairs. As Mark tours his aunt’s house for the first time, the doorbell rings.
Days after graduating medical school, Dr. Emily Davis drives north, struggling with her illicit rendezvous on Mackinac Island. She never makes it—on the highway near Manistique, her car collides with a deer, shattering the car’s windshield. Stranded for the night, Emily is directed to a nearby bed and breakfast.
Maybe it’s a heady reaction, the revelation that his aunt, an international aid doctor, ran a bed and breakfast in retirement. Or perhaps he plainly feels pity for the young, helpless doctor. Regardless, Mark decides to play host for one night, telling Emily that he’s merely stepping in temporarily while his aunt is away.
As a one-night stay turns into another and more guests arrive, the ersatz innkeeper steadily loses control of his story. And though Emily opens up to Mark, she has trouble explaining the middle-aged man who unexpectedly arrives at the doorstep looking for her.
Will these two strangers, holding on to unraveling secrets, remain in town long enough to discover the connection between them?
What I Thought:
I got Stuck in Manistique as an e-ARC from NetGalley. I usually read more historical fiction and YA, but I thought I would give something new a try. Overall, I enjoyed this book. It was quirky, and had an interesting cast of characters. I found the two main characters, Mark and Emily, to be endearing and fun to follow around.
I have never been to Michigan, and certainly not to the Upper Peninsula, so I really enjoyed the descriptions of the scenery up there. It was just enough to help me feel acclimated to the atmosphere and not feel overwhelmed by detail. I could perfectly picture myself in this world, which is always very important to me as a reader.
I had never heard of the fear of bridges before, gephyrophobia. I felt the panic and anxiety that Mark felt, and now feel like I have a little bit more insight into the world. If nothing else can be said for this novel, it is that Cuesta wrote characters that were very real, even while being a little silly at times. I found some of the more comical sections to be a welcome relief from the more serious tones of the text. Every character had at least one fairly glaring flaw, but they were loved regardless which is so much like real-life.
There were a few things in the book that were not my favorite. I found the repeating refrain that Mark and Emily didn’t see each other romantically to be somewhat comical after being repeated at least five or six times. I just feel that there was a more artful way of conveying to the reader that you should not ‘ship’ these two characters. I also found some of the almost slapstick-esque comedy to be a little bit too much. I little can go a long way. And, I found the end to be very abrupt. I won’t spoil it, but it felt like I was left hanging a bit, and not in a good way.
All in all, this was a fun read with a great cast of characters. It dealt with some harder topics, like cancer, suicide, affairs, guilt and fear in a well-put-together way. Of all of the places to get stuck, Manistique seems like a pretty good place to be.
I gave Stuck in Manistique 3 STARS. I would recommend this for anyone who enjoys fiction with a bit of quirk and some heartfelt moments sprinkled in.
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Love and happy reading,