A father’s cancer diagnosis upends his family’s life in Runde’s vivid if unfocused debut. Brian and Margot Dunne made a living renting homes to tourists in Seaside, N.J., until a brain tumor sidelined Brian, making him irritable, confused, and unrecognizable to his family. Eight months after the diagnosis, Margot is struggling to care for him while running the business, and she dreams of leaving everything behind. Their 17-year-old daughter, Liz, meanwhile, cultivates an interest in her charming but self-absorbed coworker at an umbrella rental stand, and 16-year-old Evy discovers Margot posts in an online forum for wives whose partners have brain tumors, and then joins under an assumed identity to reconnect with her. As Brian’s health deteriorates, Margot makes a rash decision, and it’s up to Evy to bring her family back together. Runde’s evocative descriptions conjure the salty humidity of the Jersey Shore (“They stayed out until the waves were dark, pulsing shadows, until the last streak of red-gold sun rushed out of the sky”), but some narrative threads feel extraneous, such as the romance between Evy and her classmate. Though uneven, this transportive work successfully captures the dissonance and resilience of family. Agent: Elisabeth Weed, Book Group. (May)
From the Publisher
A novel about how a family contends with hardship and the ways we often flee from the people who know us best, The Shore is an emotional and authentic read.” —Shondaland
“A comforting debut on family and finding resilience in the face of sorrow.” —Booklist
“Runde’s debut is a heartbreaking family journey; a summer read that is at once sad, hopeful, frustrating, and ultimately uplifting.” —Library Journal
"Vivid. . . . Runde’s evocative descriptions conjure the salty humidity of the Jersey Shore. . . . this transportive work successfully captures the dissonance and resilience of family.” —Publishers Weekly
“A tale of slowly revealed secrets and evocative sensory details of the Jersey Shore. . . . a vivid portrait." —BookPage
"Runde’s sympathetic portrait of a family in crisis is not without humor and insight. . . . this family story is sweet, sad, and surprising." —Kirkus Reviews
"Locals and longtimers are forced to reckon with their families, choices, and secrets." —The Millions
"The Shore is a sharp and affecting novel, a wholly original exploration of what it means to love and lose set against a fabulously vibrant backdrop. Runde's writing is both deeply felt and deeply funny—often in the same breath." —Claire Lombardo, author of The Most Fun We Ever Had
"The Shore was a joy to read. I loved the Dunnes from page one, and Katie Runde has so much to say about love and grief and growing up and the way we sometimes manage to learn who we are when we’re in the midst of losing the person we love most." —Rachel Beanland, author of Florence Adler Swims Forever
"How can a novel be simultaneously a delicious page turner that transports the reader to warm seaside days while also being a deft, deep meditation on illness, grief, and loss? The Shore is both, and I wept over this tender family story of mother, father, daughters, interwoven with fine renderings of a summer town, a summer economy, and the people who make it go and who still call it home when the tourists leave. This is a lovely, expansive look at the hard work of caregiving, saying goodbye, and keeping on." —Lydia Kiesling, author of The Golden State
"A stunning anatomy of the varieties of sorrow and consolation, with a brilliant understanding of the ways different generations find unexpected common ground. Like Olive Kitteridge before it, The Shore takes a place bursting with colorful characters and its own idiosyncratic anthropology and makes it intimately familiar. Runde perfectly captures the fraught expressions of feeling between parents and children on the raucous eve of their independence, and she nails the way everyday longings, fears and joys don’t always scurry from life’s stage when the monster of grief descends from the rafters. The reader, under the spell of Runde’s superb storytelling, never wants to leave this family behind." —Matthew Thomas, author of We Are Not Ourselves
"Runde’s gift is a poetry of things: coffee cups and casseroles rush in to break your heart, expressing the truths about the anguish of love and loss that would melt like cotton candy into cliche if you tried to say them directly. The Shore is about the ugly, hard parts of loving someone, about the vacation town once the vacation is over, the awkwardness of growing up and the un-fun wisdom you learn to hold onto instead of push away. Tender, heartfelt and infinitely readable." —Rufi Thorpe, author of The Knockout Queen
"The Shore is everything I crave in a novel: characters who become like family, gorgeous prose, and a setting so vivid, you can almost smell the ocean and hear the boardwalk games. Katie Runde is a gifted writer and shows us how to bear the unimaginable in these pages. Readers will hate to leave Seaside behind." —Ethan Joella, author of A Little Hope
DEBUT Summer is heating up in Seaside, NJ. The beaches are open, the sun is shining, and the boardwalk is filled with tourists with cash to spend. Brian and Margot Dunne's summer rentals are filled with Airbnb guests, and they are busier than ever. Their 17-year-old daughter Liz is busy renting umbrellas on the beach and flirting with Gabe. Their younger daughter, 16-year-old Evy, is selling candy and falling in love with a girl named Olivia. Then a cloud passes over the Dunne family. Brian begins to decline and is eventually diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Words start to fail Brian, even as he writes them on slips of paper throughout the house: enter, embark, embarrass. Margot, Liz, and Evy contend with loss: of normal, of family, and soon of Brian. Over the course of the summer, they must come to terms and find a new way to go on. VERDICT Runde's debut is a heartbreaking family journey; a summer read that is at once sad, hopeful, frustrating, and ultimately uplifting.—Susan Santa
A summer at the shore turns real for a family experiencing loss and love at the same time.
Margot and Brian Dunne, who’ve been married forever and are the parents of teenagers Liz and Evy, run a chain of rental houses in Seaside, on the Jersey shore. Former teachers, the couple worked their way up from modest circumstances and lead a life many would consider ideal. Brian’s tortuous descent into anger and oblivion—the agonizing results of a growing brain tumor—marks the course of an emotionally tumultuous summer for the family. Margot shoulders the burden of operating the family business with help from Liz and Evy, who are also continuing their own work: passing from adolescence to adulthood (with the attendant insecurity and heartache that process brings). While maintaining a united front to the outside world, the three women deal with familial misunderstandings and secrets, all now freighted with added urgency in light of Brian’s decline. Margot shares her fears and plans on an online forum, unaware that her internet-savvy girls are, maybe, one step ahead of her there. Liz and Evy don’t know what they don’t know about their parents’ relationship over the years despite internet and household sleuthing. Runde’s sympathetic portrait of a family in crisis is not without humor and insight: The brigade of well-meaning friends and neighbors who support the family with a never-ending supply of IDCs (Inevitable Death Casseroles) is just one finely drawn target here. An epigraph from Springsteen’s “Born to Run” places Runde’s account of abandonment, loneliness, and recovery firmly on the Jersey shore and among its yearning populace.
Runde’s family story is sweet, sad, and surprising.