Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.

The Arctic tern makes the journey each year from the Arctic to Antarctica, halfway round the world following feeding grounds. But the fish is running out and this year may be their last migration. Franny is determined to follow them, she just needs to convince a fishing vessel to take her, the very people who have plundered the oceans of the birds’ prey.

If they’ve died, all of them, it’s because we made the world impossible for them.

Wow, what a beautiful and melancholy story. I have seen plenty of praise for this book and it is richly deserved. It’s about the desire to keep moving even if doing so is self-destructive, Franny’s wandering urges echoed by the Arctic terns’ journey to feed even if the food is not there.

Franny’s instinct is to hate the people who fish for a living, taking the natural food away from dwindling wildlife and selling it to humans. She comes to love those she sails with, seeing that their love of the sea is something more than profit. It’s been their way of life and it is disappearing too. Her husband would have hated them, the flashbacks see him angry over humanity’s lack of compassion, its greed, his guilt.

I love cli-fi but this is the first one I’ve read where there has been a prevailing sadness over the loss of species. Each animal gone is mourned, not only the large and rarer mammals, but the common birds we see every day. The birds we often overlook. It really is heartbreaking.

My life has been a migration without a destination, and that in itself is senseless.

The writing was beautiful but never got in the way of the story. Franny’s life before her migration is fed to us in small, fleeting chunks. The mystery of how she ended up on the fishing boat as much part of the draw as her impossible journey. And oh did I cry at the end, both with sadness and joy.

At times, she includes little snippets of conversations or news stories which help paint a picture of the state of the world. This is only a tiny niggle, but sometimes these declarations didn’t quite fit with the kind of life humans were still living. There is a waiting list for people to visit the remaining forests, and there isn’t enough time for everyone to do so. I felt that if global deforestation was that bad, there would have been a bigger impact. They are still drinking coffee of all things, a crop that is already under pressure from climate change.

It’s not life I’m tired of, with its astonishing ocean currents and layers of ice and all the delicate feathers that make up a wing. It’s myself.

Migrations was previously published in the UK as The Last Migration, but it looks like the paperback is out now under the US title. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review via NetGalley.

20 Books of Summer #10

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