ISLAND BLUFFS is a story of forgiveness, of understanding the dark side of the human spirit, and plumbs the age-old question: are children and grandchildren accountable for the sins of their parents? It is also a love story.
Carly Mason, NY’s top forensic dentist is married to a widower, Gabe Berk, and is trying to start a family. Gabe has a sixteen year old, rebellious daughter – Megan - from his first marriage. Having exhausted all of NY’s top fertility experts, Carly and Gabe learn of an eccentric scientist who runs an exclusive clinic. The doctor explains the only way he will help: Carly must agree to carry twins, one is biologically hers, and the other is not. She must sign an agreement to give the surrogate baby up at birth to the doctor, without asking why. We learn that the doctor has created this same deal – always with success – ten other times. Besides needing to move within thirty minutes of the doctor’s clinic, there is one last caveat: in the event of the aged doctor’s demise before she gives birth, Carly must give the baby the name chosen by the doctor. And while the gender for Carly’s baby is uncertain, the doctor’s will be male.
Soon after Carly conceives, Gabe has the opportunity to buy the vacation dream house of his dreams at the Jersey shore, in the town of Island Bluffs. They make plans to move there for the summer and invite Gabe’s father - Yehuda, a Holocaust survivor (the fertility expert is a survivor of the Mengele twin experiments) - to live with them.
The Berks stagger through a moving day filled with barriers. No sooner have the movers left than a local business-type mysteriously appears at their door and offers to buy the house from them for a hefty profit. The Berks declare that their dream fulfilled is not worth money to them, and refuse the quick bucks.
As day breaks in their new house, it becomes apparent this is no ordinary house…and Island Bluffs is no ordinary town. Gabe and Carly feel eyes spying on them at every turn; Yehuda hears strange noises that only he can hear; and Megan is attracted to the son of a Neo-Nazi, which does not please her Jewish father. To add to the mysteries, a scavenger ship mysteriously plies offshore for buried treasure and we glimpse a lone swimmer, from time to time, lumbering through the waves of Barnegat Bay. In time, we learn that this unnamed man is an octogenarian like Yehuda and has been hidden by the town since the end of WWII. Most everyone has forgotten the man’s past…except the town’s diehards.
In quick order, Yehuda befriends the ghost who haunts their house, Megan grows closer to the German youth, and the town elders are determined to run the Berks out of Island Bluffs to protect their long-held secret.
Island Bluffs is a present-day town blinded by a pact made long ago (not to mention Carly’s Faustian deal with the fertility expert). This truth begins to unfold when Megan discovers a cache of hidden bones in a basement washroom; Gabe is arrested and tossed in jail; and Carly’s happiness is clouded over when she learns that the fertility clinic is inhabited by a strange collection of teens and boys. No females. Are these boys from bartered pregnancies like hers? Is the doctor a pedophile? Carly needs to know because there is no way she would ever let him take the second child only to be placed at risk. She challenges the doctor and weeps when she hears his answer.
Yehuda has known terror and police fascism at its worst. Given hints by the ghost and curious about secrets in the house, Yehuda discovers a false attic room that has been hidden since WWII. This room holds more answers than he or anyone else wants to know; it holds the key to the enigma of Island Bluffs. With truth in hand, Yehuda is determined to not only free his son from jail, but to free the ghost from the hatred and anger that has consumed it ever since a German U-2 boat (one that ignored Hitler’s direct orders) sank off the Jersey coast in 1945. The scavenger ship trolling the seas eventually finds the U-2 boat and this discovery provides answers about the identity of the man Island Bluffs has hidden for over sixty years.
Exposing the house’s and town’s secrets come to a head when a torrential rain puts Megan’s beau in mortal peril. Yehuda, in the struggle of his life, tries to convince the ghost that the youth is not responsible for what his grandfather had done to her over sixty years earlier. That she, the ghost, has to learn how to forgive. The ghost learns the lesson, but the price is enormous. Yehuda trades his life so that the neo-Nazi’s son can live.
In the end, the German sympathizers of Island Bluffs who harbored a U-2 boat survivor since World War II give up their history and move forward. Gabe and Carly finally get to live in peace in their dream house. And the ghost finds the love she so bitterly missed all these years.
And what of the strange doctor? We learn that he was a genetic genius, that he had been cloning babies for close to two decades. But not just any babies. Masterminds of brilliance, babies of beauty, and – of late - babies of hate. To what end? The doctor reveals that his twin died at Mengele’s hand. Carrying the guilt of a survivor and the anger for retribution, he dedicates his life to 1) surrounding himself with love and beauty; 2) creating clones of great Jews; 3) and cloning Mengele to prove that the nurturing love of a Jew will change his genetic heritage of hate. The doctor’s grand experiment cannot fail, even if it will cost him his life.
There is one last vignette to unfold: once we learn that the children in the doctor’s house are clones of Einstein, Chagall, Arthur Miller, Mendelssohn, and such, who is the baby that Carly is carrying for the doctor supposed to be? The answer will shock and astound.