“Everybody Here is Kin” by BettyJoyce Nash            

Everybody Here is Kin is a literal storm brewing in the middle of a place called Boneyard Island. This is supposed to be Lucille’s birthday trip onward to Key West, and the island a destination to bury her father’s ashes. Instead, her mother takes off with a new man, leaving a note: See you Wednesday…I’ll text or call, adding seventy-five dollars for Lucille to care for herself and the two younger children, Mayzie and Jack. Wednesday comes and goes. Lucille is only thirteen, fourteen on Labor Day, and Naomi disappears for longer than the children can remember her leaving them in the past. Can Lucille cover for Naomi this time?

The island is a place for discovery of secret magical spots with characters like Will, an artist, who reminds Lucille of her dad, and Queen, a unique elderly soul, a self-proclaimed ”turtle queen who monitors the sea turtle nests on the beach and has her own sense of mystical wisdom and advice. Lucille has an interest in the science and history behind the area and becomes attached to this place and its fascinating lore, the beach the setting for her mom and dad’s marriage. She enjoys the camaraderie with her small circle of newfound friends, to include Queen’s grandson, Renaldo, who like his grandmother wants to protect the natural environment. However, Lucille worries when the sheriff enters the scene, even if he is Will’s friend. Despite trying to be careful, she always seems to blurt out more than she wants to divulge. Maybe there is a reason.

Life on Boneyard Island can be complex not only in Lucille’s immediate world, but with the circle of characters who live there. Belva runs the market where Will sells his hand-carved sculptures. Will accepts a date with this woman who orders rattlesnake from the menu. Belva explains she is separated from her husband, a local doctor. This makes for confusion where Will really stands with her, and perhaps more so when he later finds himself engaging with this doctor.

Will sees strength in Lucille beyond her years, and without meaning to, he ends up taking quite a bit of responsibility watching out for both her and the two younger siblings. He juggles both his work as an artist with his time to mingle and explore with the children. Where is Naomi, the mother of these three? Will hears rumors of her whereabouts with the new boyfriend, but she isn’t hurrying to return.

BettyJoyce Nash

The author, BettyJoyce Nash, takes the reader in and out of points of view, and chapters are devoted to the inner voice of different characters. This gives the reader a feel for the interiority of the residents of this unique place and causes the reader to empathize with and root for the characters, especially Lucille and her struggles as the main caregiver. What if her mother doesn’t ever return? How long can Lucille keep up this façade? The story builds up to a gripping catastrophe, holding the reader to turn the page to find out what happens next.

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