Islands in the Stream is a novel in three parts by legendary writer Ernest
Hemingway. Published posthumously, Islands tells the story of Thomas
Hudson, a complicated man, through three very different stages of his life.
The first part of the book, titled “Bimini,” tells of Hudson's love of
spending time with his three sons. This portion is wrought with classic
Hemingway style, as the pleasure Hudson feels when he’s with his children
is juxtaposed by the loneliness and isolation he feels when they leave his
island retreat. There’s a very frightening scene about a shark attack in this part. It’s written with a fever of which many people thought Hemingway was no longer capable at the time he wrote this book.
“Cuba,” the second part of the story, deals with heartache and loss—from a number of angles. It fatally pulls at the heartstrings of readers.
“At Sea,” the final part of the novel sees the story take an action-oriented
turn as an older Hudson leads a group in pursuit of a German U-boat.
The truly interesting part of this particular Hemingway masterwork is in the separation of time over the three main parts of the book. Hemingway
demonstrates the longevity of life and the constant chance for renewal,
which I believe is the primary purpose of the novel. It is in highlighting
Hudson's struggle that Hemingway reminds us that life is unscripted, raw, and
unpredictable. Each turn of the character’s fate causes the reader to
cringe—and yet, at the same time, each inspires hope that redemption isn’t
far off, and that while scars may never quite heal, the pain does dull over
time, giving anyone a chance at recovery.
I loved this book, as I do any book written by my absolute favorite writer.
Hemingway has a rare ability to put his readers there in the thick with his
characters, living within the same emotional pool, often sharing the fear of drowning as his characters struggle to keep afloat amid their intricate,
often unfortunate lives.