Summer in Red Hook, Brooklyn, an isolated blue-collar neighborhood where hipster gourmet supermarkets push against tired housing projects and the East River opens into the bay. Bored and listless, 15-year-olds June and Val are looking for fun. Forget the boys, the bottles, the coded whistles. Val wants to do something wild and a little crazy: take a raft out onto the bay. But on the water during the humid night, the girls disappear. Only Val survives, washing ashore in the weeds, bruised and unconscious.
This shocking event echoes through the lives of Red Hook's diverse residents. Fadi, the Lebanese bodega owner, hopes that his shop is a place to share neighborhood news, and he trolls for information about June's disappearance. Cree, just beginning to pull it together after his father's murder, unwittingly makes himself the chief suspect in the investigation, but an enigmatic and elusive guardian is determined to keep him safe. Val contends with the shadow of her missing friend and a truth she's buried deep inside. Her teacher Jonathan, a Juilliard dropout and barfly, wrestles with dashed dreams and a past riddled with tragic sins.
In Visitation Street, Ivy Pochoda combines intensely vivid prose with breathtaking psychological insight to explore a cast of solitary souls, pulled by family, love, betrayal, and hope, who yearn for a chance to break free.
©2013 Ivy Pochada (P)2013 HarperCollins Publishers
I'm an avid listener. Audio books are a mini-vacation for me. They fill my "need to read" when I don't have time - which is most of the time. Great element of multi-tasking!
This book defies categorization, in my view: part mystery, part class struggle study, part mood piece. Interesting characters and situations, the story told in overlapping vignettes from various character's points of view. It all adds up to a well written slice of life in a seemingly contemporary New York neighborhood, its residents alternately struggling not to slide into poverty, or struggling to rise from it.
The narrator seems sluggish at first, but stay with him - he improves as the story revs up and the characters develop. He does a good job with the variety of character types, each distinguishable without specific identification for each conversation. it may also be just really good writing.
Don't listen to this when in the mood for fast-paced action. It is in there, but this is a story primarily about the perception of individuals about their surroundings. A very satisfying character study.
This is a rare book that becomes more interesting, more compelling, and more evocative as it progresses. Too often, it seems an author has a wonderful idea, but can't sustain it. I hope Ivy Pochoda has a long and fruitful writing life. She seems to have confidence in her reader, as well as in herself.
This was an exceptionally good read. The story and characters are original. The book does not shy away from the racial, sexual and economic tensions in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn. Or the same tensions experienced by adolescents and young adults. As performed, the dialogue has an authentic ring. Most of the characters are damaged-the way life damages everyone--but many are trying to do their best. There is a dose of "magical realism" but it serves the story. I think endings make or break a book and I found this book's ending satisfying.
I really enjoyed listening to this story -- narration was excellent and had exactly the right tone for this nourish tale ... Not quite gloomy not quite despair not quite hopeless but always right on the verge of being lost forever or being redeemed. This one keeps running through my head again and again. Highly recommended.
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