Author: David Vann
Published: March 5th 2015
Publisher: William Heinemann
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Length: 272 pages
I received a copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Book Blurb (via Goodreads):
Twelve-year-old Caitlin lives alone with her mother—a docker at the local container port—in subsidized housing next to an airport in Seattle. Each day, while she waits to be picked up after school, Caitlin visits the local aquarium to study the fish. Gazing at the creatures within the watery depths, Caitlin accesses a shimmering universe beyond her own. When she befriends an old man at the tanks one day, who seems as enamored of the fish as she, Caitlin cracks open a dark family secret and propels her once-blissful relationship with her mother toward a precipice of terrifying consequence.
I didn’t quite know what to expect from this book and because of that I ended up being shocked numerous times. The story follows Caitlyn, a little girl who lives with her mother – who works in a dockyard – and knows nothing about her extended family, or if she even has one.
Things don’t seem too out of the ordinary at first; Caitlyn visits the local aquarium every day after school while she waits on her mother picking her up. She meets a friendly old man there and they strike up a conversation. At home, her mother has a new boyfriend who seems friendly and genuinely cares about them both.
Things take a turn for the worse when Caitlyn finally tells her mother about the man at the aquarium. When the family secret is revealed, Caitlyn must deal with the backlash of her mother’s pent-up anger. This is where it truly shocked me, I couldn’t understand how a mother could treat her young child in such a way, but Caitlyn persevered to show that she truly did love her mother and would do anything for her, no matter how badly it hurt her.
Things are wrapped up nicely in the end, and although I still had a bad taste in my mouth concerning Caitlyn’s mother, I was still left with a satisfied feeling that things ended well.
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About the Author
Published in 19 languages, David Vann’s internationally-bestselling books have won 15 prizes, including best foreign novel in France and Spain and, most recently, the $50,000 St. Francis College Literary Prize 2013, and appeared on 70 Best Books of the Year lists in a dozen countries. He has written for the Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, Outside, Men’s Health, Men’s Journal, The Sunday Times, The Observer, The Guardian, The Sunday Telegraph, The Financial Times, Elle UK, Esquire UK, Esquire Russia, National Geographic Adventure, Writer’s Digest, McSweeney’s, and other magazines and newspapers. A former Guggenheim fellow, National Endowment for the Arts fellow, Wallace Stegner fellow, and John L’Heureux fellow, he is currently a Professor at the University of Warwick in England and Honorary Professor at the University of Franche-Comté in France.
You can find out more about David at his website.