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  • Writer's pictureJulie Mackin

Love Across An Ocean

If The Tide Turns by Rachel Ruekert

Stars: 5 


I am fully in my pirate days at the moment apparently. Just as I was finishing Woodward’s Republic of Pirates and Gibbin’s History of the World in Twelve Shipwrecks, I saw this book on NetGalley. The tagline read “A Thrilling Historical Novel of Piracy and Life After the Salem Witch Trials” and I thought, fun, swashbuckling adventures and just requested it without reading the blurb. I received both the audio and the ebook and so I began immersing myself in the world of Sam Bellamy and Maria Brown.


The book covers a short time period, 1715 to 1718, and alternates between Maria and Sam’s POV; these two meet, fall in love, and then part, vowing to reunite in a year. Sam promises to return to Maria after he has made his fortune, so they can live together, free from the censure of the town of Eastham on Cape Cod. But in their time apart, Sam becomes one of the most famous pirates of his time. And Maria must endure the shame and banishment that comes to one who steps outside the conventional norms in Puritan society. Woven through their tale is the story of the land that was taken by the white settlers from the Indigenous peoples all throughout Massachusetts. The treatment of not just the Wampanoags themselves but the very land they had lived on for centuries is a shameful reminder of our settler past. 


So I went into this expecting pirate raids and a fun story. I came away with an ache in my heart for what women and people of color had to, and continue to have to, endure when they don’t “stay in their lane.” The what could-have-beens associated with Bellamy’s crew and their desire to establish as a pirate republic made me sad for the world that took too long to abolish the slave trade and slavery itself. As a woman, the ostracization that Maria experienced because she wanted different things than she was told to want, how her vibrancy and curiosity was treated as a determent, even an evil, is hard to read. Maria may or may not have been real, but what she experienced could not have been unique to her in the eighteenth century and the fortitude she exhibits is the heart of this story, one that I hope many people will have a chance to read. 


This book has moved me more than I can say and I am going to be singing its praises to everyone! And since I live not too far from Provincetown, I will be making a trip to see the wreck of the Whydah and heading again to Wellfleet to start at Marconi Beach and stare out into the sea and imagine their story. 

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