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The Year of Fog
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Product Description

Life changes in an instant. On a foggy beach. In the seconds when Abby Mason—photographer, fianc¨¦e soon-to-be-stepmother—looks into her camera and commits her greatest error. Heartbreaking, uplifting, and beautifully told, here is the riveting tale of a family torn apart, of the search for the truth behind a child’s disappearance, and of one woman’s unwavering faith in the redemptive power of love—all made startlingly fresh through Michelle Richmond’s incandescent sensitivity and extraordinary insight.

Six-year-old Emma vanished into the thick San Francisco fog. Or into the heaving Pacific. Or somewhere just beyond: to a parking lot, a stranger’s van, or a road with traffic flashing by. Devastated by guilt, haunted by her fears about becoming a stepmother, Abby refuses to believe that Emma is dead. And so she searches for clues about what happened that morning—and cannot stop the flood of memories reaching from her own childhood to illuminate that irreversible moment on the beach.

Now, as the days drag into weeks, as the police lose interest and fliers fade on telephone poles, Emma’s father finds solace in religion and scientific probability—but Abby can only wander the beaches and city streets, attempting to recover the past and the little girl she lost. With her life at a crossroads, she will leave San Francisco for a country thousands of miles away. And there, by the side of another sea, on a journey that has led her to another man and into a strange subculture of wanderers and surfers, Abby will make the most astounding discovery of all—as the truth of Emma’s disappearance unravels with stunning force.

A profoundly original novel of family, loss, and hope—of the choices we make and the choices made for us—The Year of Fog beguiles with the mysteries of time and memory even as it lays bare the deep and wondrous workings of the human heart. The result is a mesmerizing tour de force that will touch anyone who knows what it means to love a child.

From the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews:

    I read this book too fast because I literally had to know where each next step of her search would take her. I thought the pacing was perfect, but only someone who has been through this type of an investigation can understand why it doesn't move forward in what may be considered a "normal" pace or a straight line. It meanders perfectly for the story line. It plods where it needs to obesses where it needs to..and you get pulled in to understanding why only this womans instinct and determnation to get up each day keeps this search for this child alive. Perhaps I am biased, as I have been through an experience of trauma, but I thought she hit every note perfectly right. The characters ring true in every way. I LOVE this book...bravo Michelle. You are a find, and I think you are on my MUST READ every thing she write very short list now. I highly recommend....more info
  • One small moment changes your life
    "Here is the truth, this is what I know: we were walking on Ocean Beach, hand in hand". In a fleeting moment, Abby lets go of Emma's hand and looks into her camera. When she looks back, six-year old Emma is gone. An engrossing tale of searching, hope, despair, rethinking a moment in time over and over again. How one small decision can change a life. ...more info
  • Pretentious , repetitive and superficial.
    The actual story could be consolidated in about 25 pages. The filler poses as profound insights, but is actually the ramblings of a shallow, self-centered woman. The flashbacks break into the plot with annoying repetition....more info
  • Wonderful book.
    I couldn't put this book down. From the first to the last page, I was completely absorbed. I felt like I was there every step of the way. I loved this book....more info
  • A bit slow in some parts, but a good book!
    While I agree with some of the reviews that this book was a bit drawn out in some parts, I give the author credit for sticking to the plot and developing it at her pace. There were times where I just wanted to find out if Abby found this poor child or not, but realized that it would have been less realistic if the author had rushed through many of the details. I also give Ms. Richmond credit for not turning this novel into a predictable, corny love story where you can determine the ending from the first part of the book. As another reader noted, the book, plot and characters do "haunt" you in a sense after you are done with the book. While you can only assume the child will be okay, I was left wondering how Abby went on with her life. Worth your time...go ahead and give it a read!...more info
  • Overall, A Satisfying Book
    I was captivated by the story from the first few pages. Isn't losing a child every parent's worst nightmare? When a child goes missing with no definitive answer about what happened, this has to be endlessly excruciating (as is demonstrated throughout the book).

    On a typical day, Abby takes her fiance's daughter, Emma, to the beach to look for shells. In an instant when Abby looks down to photograph a dead seal pup, Emma disappears. The author takes us through the slow demise of Abby and Jake's relationship, which is easy to relate to. While some couples can get to the other side of such a traumatic situation, most cannot. Abby blames herself and, to a degree, Jake blames her too.

    I wasn't distracted by the pace (as other reviewers have mentioned) until about two-thirds of my way through the book. I do think the book could have been a bit shorter, but not by much. The reality of child disappearances is that they often take a long time to figure out, sometimes decades and sometimes there is never an answer.

    The author holds open the possibility of many endings and eventually offers an answer to what happened. The ending of a book is often where it falls apart, but I didn't think that happed with A Year of Fog. It's definitely a worthwhile read....more info
  • Love At First Read.....
    I love this book. Love, Love, Love this book. It has everything in a book that holds my attention. The imagery in parts is great. It also allows me to get inside the main character and feel and see what she is going thru. It captured my attention from the very first paragraph. I love the style that Michelle Richmond writes in. I am so glad to have found this book and cannot wait to read all the other books she has written and will write.
    It is just a really, beautiful book......I am recommending it to everyone I know and have chosen it for my book club to read. Get a cup of coffee or tea.......curl up and enjoy!!!!!!!...more info
  • Great Read
    This book is filled with raw emotion which may resonate with many readers, especially those who have lost their children, if even for a very brief moment in time. Richmond captures the essence of those 60 seconds when you don't know where your child is, the moment you realize he or she isn't standing where you last looked, the true panic that sets in. It's an excellent and fast read.
    ...more info
  • I can't believe I wasted precious brain cells reading this book!
    If you are just looking for a book to read on the beach, this is for you.

    This is the first book I have ever read in my life where I felt that my time would have been better spent reading something else.

    I felt like the author tried way too hard to make this a "good" book. I would say half of the chapters in this book could be deleted due to repetition or superfluous detail. There were a few chapters and MANY paragraphs I just skipped right over because she was going on and on and on about something.

    I think the problem with this book is that there isn't enough depth. The plot started out promisingly, but the author hinged onto just a couple details and just beat them (and me) to death!...more info
  • The Year of Fog
    While the book had some very intriguing parts that kept me going, mostly it was very slow. Not one I would read twice....more info
  • Not worth remembering...
    The beginning of this book got your attention, but went downhill from character development.....repetitive descriptions all the way through the novel....boring and wordy narratives on "Deep End of the Ocean" for a much more captivating look at a child's kidnapping and the mystery surrounding it.....this book makes the reader feel as if we were somehow in a FOG!!

    ...more info
  • Too much yet not enough...
    This one is hard to review without giving away spoilers, but I'll try... a friend of mine called this book "manipulative" and I agree. I also think the first 50% of it could be condensed down quite a bit. There was a lot of "and then I searched and looked and searched and looked". I get the panic, I get the hopelessness. I get that. But sheesh. Having said that, I liked the ending. I just didn't like the final ending. I felt like screaming "yeah right, give me a break" in the last few pages. It just didn't ring true for me.

    I liked the story of the book up until the very very end. I wanted that final payout I suppose. I really didn't like the writing. It was too much. Too flowery, too detailed, just too too much.

    I also didn't really like any of the characters. None of them came off exceptionally real or exceptionally sympathetic.

    Having said that, as I write this, we haven't had book club for this one, but I think this will make for a good meeting. That part, I look forward to :)...more info
  • "Redbook" fiction
    The repetition is exhausting, but perhaps that is the way it is when a child is lost. Upon finishing the book, I felt that the novel could have been edited down to "Redbook" fiction.
    ...more info
  • Boring
    I knew in the first 20 pages who would've abducted the child. It was way too predictable and I got so frustrated with the slow pace that I skipped a big chunk of the book just so I can read the final pages and felt like I didn't miss a thing. Please spend your money elsewhere. ...more info
  • Foggy Book
    This book put me in a fog. I agree it could have made an interesting short story, but too far fetched. Why didn't the authorities go after the child's biological mother in the beginning? I highly recommend "Deep End of the Ocean" if you want a good read on a similar subject....more info
  • fogged over

    Although I enjoyed the references to lovely San Francisco, I agree with other reviewers that the book is repetitive. It could have been shortened considerably, or better yet, the plot could have been enhanced and/or incorporated better character development. A few things:

    Hard to believe that the uber-observant Abby could lose an adored child at Ocean Beach (even with fog and a dead seal).

    Although the author clearly did her research on memory, photography and San Francisco, the book seemed more of a report on these subjects, kind of dumped into a loose plot about a lost child. It would have worked better if the research was more subtly interwoven into a deeper plot with more developed characters.

    In particular, the relationship between Jake and Abby seemed very superficial. Although I get it that Jake is clean, logical, hairy-chested and paternal, I don't know who he is beyond that. The romantic relationship wasn't deeply established, and the intimacy seemed sit-commy.

    The next door neighbor Nell seemed a tad too convenient, being a librarian and all, coming over with mounds of books and referrals to hypno-therapists. The relationship there seemed superficial as well, all one-way.

    Although the character Abby seems a decent person, I hardly thought her worthy of all the adoration she gets simply by showing up. In particular, it was hard to imagine why Nick, the successful captain wonderful who flies around the world on mysterious (spy?) missions, would first of all be constantly single, and second, continuously on the hunt and in utter adoration of (a rather morose) Abby. Ditto for female strangers, like the surfer girl Goofy. Abby doesn't seem to give anything back to these people, but they still want more Abby.

    The ending was a little anti-climatic, perhaps some more obstacles in the get-away would have been more exciting. In any event, I think that if the characters and relationships were more fleshed out and I had more connection to them, any ending would have been fine. As it was, I felt as if I was seeing them through the fog; they might have been together but I still don't understand why.

    ...more info
  • It pulls you in
    This is one of the best books I've read. Michelle Richmond evokes every parent's or caregiver's worst nightmare of losing a child in their care. I was torn between wanting to keep the pages turning to see what happens and hoping the book wouldn't end. Initially, it reminded me of Jane Hamilton's "A Map of the World", but ended up being far more engrossing - characters so well-drawn, suspenseful and emotional. I wondered if I would have had Abby's incredible, unflagging determination to find someone else's child, especially in the face of the child's own father having given up. A terrific read!...more info
  • A LIVING NIGHTMARE ------------

    What could be a person's worst living nightmare than to have a child lost under any circumstances? But to have that child be abducted while under your care would make one lose their mind --

    Meet Abby Mason, young photographer, engaged to Jake, soon-to-be step-mom to his six year old daughter, Emma. On a stretch of foggy beach in San Francisco, young Emma vanishes into thin air. One second she is there, the next she is not.

    Abby, beside herself with grief and GUILT, makes it her mission in life to seek and find Emma. Who wouldn't? When my kids were young, abduction was always in the back of my mind and still lives there, especially having a twenty-something daughter. Evil does, unfortunately, lurk. Anyway, Abby takes it upon herself to search high and low for little Emma.

    The book deals with this tragedy well; however, I did find the story and writing to get rather loooooooooooooooooooong in the middle. I found myself skim-reading, which I do not like to do. There was plenty of psychological thoughts presented and for me, this was dull.

    The story was a good thought, but it seemed to fall flat at times. The only characters I found interesting were Abby and Emma. The other characters were flitting in and out of the picture, maybe that was the entire idea. Some parts of the book could have delved deeper into characters -- Jake's ex-wife, Lisbeth, in particular. Her part in the book, I felt, should have been extended and when it came to the end of the book I felt too many details that I would have found helpful and interesting to the story were not there.

    This is a good book, dealing with a very difficult subject. Unfortunately, child abduction happens all over the world every single day. What I did like was how the author brought to light how the media runs with a story and then, when it gets old in their eyes, just lets the story drop. The out-pouring of support from friends and family was also written well. How Abby worked daily and relentlessly to keep Emma's story out there was great. The character of Abby was a good one; you could really relate to her guilt, her never-ending searching, the thoughts going through her mind, and how this one second in time affected not only her life, but the life of many, many people.

    You should read this book; while not great, it is good.

    Thank you!
    Pam...more info
  • the year of fog
    As a librarian in small rural library in New Hampshire, my patrons and I
    liked this book a lot. It as our vote for one of the best books of 2007.
    It has a wonderfully intriguing title, is well-written and Abby who loses her sone-to-be step-daughter on a foggy beach is a great character. The suthor treats the subject of missing children realistically but with quiet dignity, getting the message across how devastating such a loss is to everyone involved. The meditations on menory add substand to the plot. I do, however, recommend that the reader not go to the ending ahead of time (you will be tempted!) or reveal the ending to anyone who hasn't read the book but plans to. This book is a great choice for book club discussion. I recommend it highly....more info
  • The very LONG year of fog: A monotonous journey.
    I am on page 253, the beginning of chapter 55. I am used to skimming irrelevant details so that the relavent ones stand out. I am a good student and the strategy works well for me. When I dive into pleasure reading I expect that I will not skim, but will be so captivated by the story that I can't stop reading. Isn't that what fiction is for? Page 253. Two major events have happened so far: the six year old girl named Emma has disappeared, and a tourist has found one of her shoes. She has been missing for six months, each day of which Richmond leads the reader through the aimless wanderings of Emma's soon-to-be stepmother down San Francisco streets. The grief of the significant characters could have been conveyed in thirty pages, max, but drones on until I am so bored I am skimming, looking for the name of the detective or Emma or any word that would signify change in tone or event. A good editor might have pointed out a lack of substance. I good publisher recognized the need for a riveting blurb in order to sell the monotonous book. If you want to read a good book about a missing child, try Blood Orange.

    ...more info
  • Very Enjoyable
    I read some of the other reviews and they said that they believe the book dragged and was too long, that's because they just wanted the mystery to be soled. Richmond did just a great job getting into the head of the main character. I loved her writing style and I feel like I related to the characters. Haven't felt that in a long time. Even the music she references is cool and current. She's (Michelle) interesting, someone I would love to meet!...more info
    I Cannot believe the 1 star reviews on this book!! Are you kidding??? This is one of the best books ive read in years!! You could feel the struggle within this relationship, and it wasnt typical or predictable. The emotions were very believable and you could feel for all involved. The determination in the search. i loved it....more info
  • Not perfect but good reading.
    Yes, this book needed a little editing. But forgive the repetition and settle in to experience a woman haunted by guilt and regret over a disappearance she probably couldn't have averted. I thought the author portrayed her feelings in a way that rang true and she made her obsession seem warranted. The ending might have been a little abrupt, but it surprised me, and I like that in a book. A little over long in the middle, this is a good story, and a satisfying mystery....more info
  • Fabulous
    I was totally engrossed by this story. I felt very connected to the main character, Abby. You hope that you never find yourself in this position; to look away for a moment and find your child gone. I thought Michelle Richmond was spot on with how she developed her characters and the course their emotions and choices took them.

    This was so beautifully written and will be one of my favorite reads of the year if not an all time favorite....more info
  • Thought-provoking and well written
    I read this book a few months ago. While the subject matter doesn't make for easy reading, I have to say I found the book to be really well written. The author took me to the core of what the characters were going through. The book is a powerful example of how one little misstep in life, one little lapse of concentration, can change our lives forever. ...more info
  • Page Turner, as good as any Jodi Picoult
    My comparison to Jodi Picoult is not original, a professional reviewer made that assessment to which I heartily agree. I stayed up until 5 in the morning several nights in a row to get to the conclusion. Anyone, who has suffered a disappearance of a loved one, will understand the haunting of emotions the protagonist experiences. The purpose of the length added credibility to how driven one becomes in search of their missing loved one. The tension in the story builds as one wonders if the main character will be able to keep from loosing her grip on reality and her isolating behaviors, as well as the behavior of others, who distance themselves from her due to pursuit.
    This topic of missing children was well researched. I also learned things about photography as a bonus.
    I only gave 4 stars because, there was a lot of references to memory theories, however, I felt that the story still could have been gripping with a few less pages....more info
  • It stays with you...
    I am what Stephen King calls a "Constant Reader". I am always always reading a book. So when I say this is one of my top ten books of all time, it is in competition with many many wonderful books. The Year of Fog grabbed me somewhere deep inside and though I read it several months and books ago, I think of it often. I especially felt compelled to write after reading what one reader said about it being repetitive. It's funny how an element of a story can strike people in different ways. It was the way Abby continually went deep inside herself to try to remember any detail of what happened when Emma disappeared, which was so compelling for me. "This is what I know..." many chapters would begin like this. It is Abby's way of looking at the moment like a photograph, and trying to add to what she knows so that she can find the little lost girl. The story is at once heartrending and hopeful, and stealthily, quietly suspenseful.

    I just found out that Michelle Richmond has another book out, and I'm hoping it is half as good as the Year of Fog! If so, she will for sure be one of my favorite storytellers!...more info