The storyline and setting grabbed Jane Lopez-Santillana’s attention.
In her mind, the fictitious tale about a scientist studying a rare, mysterious, glowing algae bloom that occurs only once every century on a remote Washington island would serve as a wonderful conversation piece for Whidbey Island residents.
Other committee members last fall agreed, leading to “The 100 Year Miracle” as the literary selection for the Sno-Isle Libraries’ annual Whidbey Reads program for 2017.
The novel, written by Seattle author Ashley Ream, was published last year.
“It’s intriguing and refreshing,” said Lopez-Santillana, assistant managing librarian at Oak Harbor Library. “I feel like there will be a lot of moments when people will go, ‘Ah hah! I know exactly where she’s talking about.”
Ream spent time on Whidbey and the San Juan islands to gain her inspiration, Lopez-Santillana said.
The main character, a biochemist and chronic pain sufferer, is captivated by a strange, green glowing bloom that blankets the waters around the San Juan Islands. She learns through local Native American legend that the tiny sea creatures that create the bloom are believed to have healing powers that could save her own life and others in similar condition.
The trouble is, she has only days to fully understand the phenomenon, which only occurs once a century.
“Part of the book deals with ecology and also the idea of being respective of native traditions and lore,” Lopez-Santillana said. “There is a component in the book where people who have Native-American backgrounds are concerned about how this will be exploited.
“A lot of different topics will resound with different populations.”
This is the 13th year of the Whidbey Reads program, which is designed to bring Whidbey residents together to read and talk about a book.
The program is a collaborative effort between Sno-Isle Libraries, friends groups from each of the island’s five public libraries and community volunteers.
The committee that selects the book is made up of community members and library staff. They met monthly to discuss choices, looking for topics with broad appeal and a compelling theme written by a regional author.
Whidbey libraries will hold a variety of events that delve into the book’s subject matter intended for public involvement.
The program culminates with the author’s visit to the island.
Ream will make two presentations on Whidbey in June to discuss her book. She will speak at 4 p.m. June 7 at the Freeland Library and at 2 p.m. June 8 at the Oak Harbor Library.
Sno-Isle Libraries carry “The 100 Year Miracle” in various formats for check out, including ebook and audio. All hard cover editions are currently checked out, Lopez-Santillana said, and the book won’t go to paperback until May 16.
Copies will be provided for purchase by The Book Rack in Oak Harbor and Moonraker Books in Langley during the author visits.
Sno-Isle Libraries is switching to a new format for selecting future books for the Whidbey Reads programs. Books will be chosen in the spring instead of the fall to allow more time to accomodate author visits.
The choice for 2018 has already been made, Lopez-Santillana said.
Avid readers who are interested in joining the Whidbey Reads selection committee may contact Lopez-Santillana at JLopez-Santillana@sno-isle.org