GREETINGS FROM THE POLAR VORTEX and a Book Review: The Light Between Oceans {M.L. Stedman}

When my husband and I were dating, I lived in a condo in downtown Chicago. One night, we had tickets to a comedy club called Zanies to see Gilbert Gottfried perform.

We walked there and it was the absolute coldest either one of us had ever been in our entire lives. I remember my legs going completely numb through my jeans as we were walking. It was probably only a 4 minute walk and by the time we got there we were both literally chilled to our bones. Our faces were bright red, we had no feeling in our fingers, and I was convinced my toes would stay numb forever. After the show, we hailed a cab and enjoyed the warm and lovely 1 minute ride back to my condo. One of the smartest financial decisions we have ever made 🙂

11 years later and my husband and I still use the term “Zanies cold” to describe the weather. As in, “It’s cold outside today! Almost Zanies cold!” or “Oh come on, it’s not that cold. It’s nowhere near Zanies cold!”

The weather we are having here today makes “Zanies cold” feel like a tropical vacation.

Greetings from the Polar Vortex!

Its absolutely crazy here. Our entire state has shut down. Schools have been called off, stores are closed, mail service has been canceled, garbage pickup has been canceled, etc.

Melting ice outside has caused water to leak into our kitchen and family room. We currently have towels everywhere, fans blowing on our carpet, and a family birthday party this weekend for both of my kids which now needs to be relocated from our home to our kids’ favorite local restaurant. Thank goodness they are able to accommodate all of us so last minute!

Yesterday my son and I ate lunch in the car after I finished leading storytime. I had packed us sliced grapes which had frozen from sitting in the car by the time we went to eat them!

Here’s a fun new fact that I learned last night:

Apparently when the temperature goes into these frigid numbers, it causes the materials used to build the house to contract.  As the heat warms the inside of the wall, it  simultaneously warms the outside of the wall and the materials inside of the wall contract.  It causes a very loud noise!

***DISCLAIMER*** I actually have no idea what I’m talking about and the above paragraph is extremely likely to be completely wrong. I read a ton of online articles about this topic somewhere around 2:00 AM and that was my takeaway…but science is not my strong suit, lol.

What I DO know is that the noises were HORRIBLE. For about 2 hours in the middle of the night, random loud BOOMS kept me awake every 10 minutes. The only thing that calmed my fears (after getting out of bed to check that everything was ok) was reading on our local town’s Facebook page about all of my neighbors experiencing the exact same thing at the exact same time! I swear nobody slept in Buffalo Grove last night…except for my husband. He slept peacefully through all of it. *insert eye rolling emoji here.*

Today my kids are home from school and my husband is home from work. We are warm, we are safe, and we are together. I stuck my head outside of our back door this morning just to see what it would feel like and my lips immediately started to tingle!  Even our dishes are freezing to the touch inside of our kitchen cabinet.  This is crazy.

Current scene in our kitchen as I blog this.  Note the giant coffee next to my computer!  It will need to be refilled at some point soon.  I’m so exhausted today.

Our heat is working just fine but our EcoBee (affiliate) couldn’t even comprehend all of this madness to report it to us this morning, lol.


One great thing about being trapped inside of the house during temperatures like this is the ability to escape into a book.  I’m not sure how much escaping I’ll be able to do today with both of my kids here, but fingers crossed I’ll be able to read for at least a little bit later on!

I posted this on Facebook last week:

It made me think of my own question and one of my all time favorite books immediately came to mind.  This older book turned out to be one of the best books I have ever read….unfortunately with one of the most boring beginnings of any book I have ever read.


Synopsis from Goodreads:

A captivating, beautiful, and stunningly accomplished debut novel that opens in 1918 Australia – the story of a lighthouse keeper and his wife who make one devastating choice that forever changes two worlds.

Australia, 1926. After four harrowing years fighting on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns home to take a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season and shore leaves are granted every other year at best, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby.

Tom, whose records as a lighthouse keeper are meticulous and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel has taken the tiny baby to her breast. Against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them.

M. L. Stedman’s mesmerizing, beautifully written debut novel seduces us into accommodating Isabel’s decision to keep this “gift from God.” And we are swept into a story about extraordinarily compelling characters seeking to find their North Star in a world where there is no right answer, where justice for one person is another’s tragic loss.

My Thoughts:

(Disclaimer: I will never post spoilers in my reviews HOWEVER the comment section is completely fair game to discuss any and all specifics including spoilers)

This book is a PERFECT example of why sometimes you just need to push through even if you’re not 100 percent in love with the book that you are reading.  I absolutely hated the beginning of this book…it was so boring.  I kept thinking, “Ok.  I’m giving this 10 more pages and then I am giving up”.  I pushed through, kept reading, and…WOW.  This book turned out to be one of the most beautifully written and moving stories I have ever read.  In my entire life.

I read this book years ago and I still think of these characters and their choices often.  As a mother, this story spoke directly to my heart.  It’s such a complicated story with so many fascinating points of view.  My feelings about certain characters completely changed as the story unfolded and I COULD.  NOT.  PUT.  THIS.  BOOK.  DOWN.

In fact, I remember I was reading this book while receiving a pedicure.  There was a television playing a very loud movie that nobody in the salon was paying attention to. I may or may not have asked the salon owner if she could please turn it off so that I could give this fascinating book the attention it so rightfully deserved.

Bottom Line:

One of the most boring beginnings of any book turned into one of the most beautiful, heartbreaking, wonderful and memorable books I have ever read.  YOU MUST PUSH THROUGH.  And then thank me.

Stay safe and stay warm, local friends!



Did you read this book?  What did you think?  I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

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Local friends, I run a storytime every Tuesday and Friday at Whimsy Play Cafe in Buffalo Grove, Illinois from 10:00-10:45! Bring your kids (6 months-5 years) for stories, songs, puppets, and lots of fun. Price is included in your child’s admission, no need to sign up. If you are a blog reader, please be sure to introduce yourself!  I can’t wait to meet you and your little ones. 🙂

Click the image below to order the book through my Amazon affiliate link.  When you order through this link, I receive a tiny commission. Thank you for your support, Xo

9 thoughts on “GREETINGS FROM THE POLAR VORTEX and a Book Review: The Light Between Oceans {M.L. Stedman}

  1. The house noises sound freaky. Glad you are staying warm and enjoying some reading time.
    Here’s my review of TLBO:
    Did you see the movie yet? It’s not as good as the book though.
    I hope Becoming gets better once you push through!
    LOL about Zanie’s cold. We used to go to Zanie’s by Hawthorn when I lived in BG. I saw Margaret Cho, Jake Johannsen, John Pinette, Pablo Francisco, and possibly a few others there. I do remember the biting Chicago cold and how it would hurt my chest to be outside.


    1. Awww I forgot that there used to be a Zanie’s by Hawthorn! We used to go there as well! I haven’t seen the movie but I would love to…although I’m not sure I want to alter my images of the characters and situations that I have created…


  2. Yes, the loud booms are totally normal – don’t be afraid. And guess what? The high temp in Phoenix today is 74 degrees. 74 degrees ABOVE zero. Stay warm, my friend!


  3. Not quite as cold at our end of the polar vortex (Ohio) but still…!!! Hopefully things are heading towards a warming trend… we’re supposed to be in the 50’s by the end of the weekend! The Midwest knows how to keep people on their toes.

    I read The Light Between the Oceans a couple of years ago and it gave me SO many feelings. It wasn’t a favorite because I’m a big fan of happy endings and that book just couldn’t have them for everyone, but Stedman’s sense of place and ability to write something poignant – without just plain wallowing in it – was excellent.

    Stay warm!!

    Liked by 1 person

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