What readers think of Migrations, plus links to write your own review.

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A Novel

by Charlotte McConaghy

Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy X
Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy
  • Critics' Opinion:

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  • First Published:
    Aug 2020, 272 pages
    Jul 2021, 288 pages


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There are currently 51 reader reviews for Migrations
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This book will tug at your heart
There have been several books written recently that caution us to take better care of our planet: The Overstory, The History of Bees and The End of the Ocean to name a few. They have all touched me and made me weep for the things mankind has done. But none of them touched me like Migration. Migration is set in a world where animals no longer exist, except for domesticated ones. Fishing has been banned since marine life is depleted. Birds are extinct except for the Arctic tern, the hardiest of birds that migrates yearly from the top of our planet to the bottom, Franny Lynch lives in this world, wanderer, sister to the sea, lover of birds. She is on a mission to follow the terns on their journey which just may be their last. She enlists a fishing boat with a crew of characters who become as determined as her to follow her birds although they have no idea Franny has a past that slowly unfolds throughout their travel. This is a book of regret, betrayal, fear, determination, hope and ultimately of great love. The ending left me breathless.
Roz Haskelson

If you have ever lived in the path of a migration of birds you will remember the sound and the sky blackened by thousands of birds flying together. Where have they gone??
I chose to read this book because I am fascinated with the topic of migrations and how we are spoiling our planet.

Sea of Despair
"The animals are dying. Soon we will be alone here. . . Once when the animals were going, really and truly, and not just in warnings of dark futures, right now, in mass extinctions we could see and feel, I decided to follow a bird over an ocean. . . Maybe I thought I'd discover whatever cruel thing drove me to leave people and places and everything." - Franny Stone

Visceral. I swear I could feel the cold, smell the sea, sense the dead silence in the forest and sky, and watch the emptying surf crash on the rocks in agony, nearly empty of precious marine life. All fauna and marine life hunted and fished to the edge of extinction by greed and callousness. Yes, it is a dark and depressing world, but the author has the gift to keep the reader reading and reading. In my case, long into the night to finish the book in one sitting,

Migrations sucked me into a world that felt far less like the future and more like an ominous vision of our real-time immediate future. Our own world tilting out-of-control; written a split-second before Covid-19 arrived, escalating heat waves that baked billions of seashore marine life, severe drought, and unstoppable forest fires that have lead to unmerciful deaths and destruction.

In a frozen Artic wilderness, Franny Stone risks life and limb, alone, scrambling along icy cliffs. Her plan, tag three of the few remaining Artic terns about to take flight, for what well may be their last annual migration to Antarctica. The prologue is heavy with a sense of loss, despair, and hopelessness. Franny, in a world seemly without hope, desperately needs to know if these last birds survive. She has an affinity for the birds. She is a thalassophile, a person magnetically attracted to the ocean. Someone feeling trapped on land. Someone who has a spiritual connection to the water. Someone who needs to be in the water to feel complete and free.

Tracking her three Artic terns flying over the earth's waterways requires a seafaring vessel. Mired in the hopelessness of their own futures, with the seas void of sustainable sources of income, no shipowner is willing to help a  lady's phrenetic need to track a small flock of birds across the globe. No one until she meets the cryptic Captain Enis Malone and the motley seafaring crew of the Saghani.

The Saghani sets sail through the high seas the boat was never built to traverse following the electronic signal of the Artic terns. As drama unfolds among the captain, Franny, and the experienced crew, we are flipped backward through time to snippets of Franny's past; a past that seems like ground-hog-day. Times that begin with promise of love and inclusiveness that end with Franny running away.

The story is dark but the reader needs to know how it all ends for Franny, the crew and Captain Enis. Will learning the fate of the birds provide a glimpse of promise that there is still hope left in the world? Can Enis and Franny free themselves from their internal bondage? The ending will surprise you.

Personally, the book affected me deeply. Will we destroy our own world through indifference and misuse of resources? Is there hope for our children's children?

Grim and Depressing
I gave this book 4 stars because the writing is beautiful. However, I hated the main character. Except for her love of nature and birds, there was nothing likable about her. I kept wanting to yell at her to get some therapy. If I had a boat, I'd sure never let her on it.
Joy E. (Rockville, MD)

Prescient Tale of Extinction
Reading Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy during this period of life-changing events is chilling. The book is set in a time when climate change has led to extinctions of most forms of wildlife, which is shifting life for many people all over the world. Although Corvid-19 is not the same, the foreshadowing of uncontrolled and uncontrollable events is unmistakable

A migration is a voyage, which is what this book is—both a literal voyage following the last migration of the Arctic tern and Franny Lynch's own voyage seeking the clues to her life. Franny is both determined and desperate. You are drawn into her story and the lives of the oddly assorted crew of the fishing vessel which she inveigles into her quest. This is a sad but beautifully written book which slowly unfolds its mysteries and truths.
Lois B. (Eden, VT)

One to Share
This is definitely a book I would share with my book group. It would bring about really great discussions; whether you agree, disagree, or somewhere in between regarding the earth and the changes mankind has wrought the author has written a story to bring the subject to life. It brought out feelings of anger (not necessarily for who you would think), sadness, but also life affirming. I will add this author to my "one to watch" list.
Lynn D. (Kingston, NY)

Perilous journeys
Migrations is an ambitious novel taking on large themes with a strong main character. Bird and animal extinction caused by climate change is major story line. The protagonist, Franny, is compelled to follow the migration of arctic terns from Greenland to Antarctica. It takes most of the novel for us to understand why she pursues this perilous journey. She needs healing, and undergoes her own migrations to find a way to survive. Some of the plot devices did not seem to me to be consistent with their characters, but overall this is a compelling story, and mystery. We're not told how far into the future the story is set, but the dire consequences of climate change should concern us all.
Nanette C. (Sarasota, FL)

Gripping story of redemption in a world in which animal life nears extinction
In this time of coronavirus isolation, reading would seem the perfect antidote to our boredom and worries. And yet I've found myself lacking the concentration required as I tried various books on my "to read" pile. Until, that is, I came to "Migrations" by Charlotte McConaghy.
Franny, our protagonist, tells her story of a world in which wildlife is rapidly disappearing. "Once," she says, "When the animals were going, really and truly and not just in warnings of dark futures but now, in mass extinctions we could see and feel, I decided to follow a bird over an ocean." And so began her quest to follow the arctic terns as they traveled from the Arctic to the Antarctic. The difficulty was that she had to find a vessel to take her on this journey. When she met the crew of a fishing boat named the Saghani (the Raven), it felt like fate. But it was only by appealing to their own self-interest that Franny persuaded the reluctant captain and crew to accept her and to allow the birds to dictate the boat's course.
As the novel unfolds, McConaghy takes us back and forth between the harrowing search for the terns and Franny's tormented past. The captain and crew of the Saghani are interesting characters as well with their own stories to tell.
McConaghy's writing is lyrical, yet the story is filled with action that will make your heart pound. Your heart will also break as you piece together what drives Franny to follow the terns. "Migrations" is a unique story that will keep you engaged in these difficult times and beyond.

Beyond the Book:
  The Arctic Tern

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