Thursday, September 12, 2013

Visitation Street by Ivy Pochoda

June and Valerie were best friends, 15-year-olds on a lark who set off from the Brooklyn waterfront on a raft one sultry summer night. Only one survives, washing up unconscious under a pier. In Visitation Street, author Ivy Pochoda slowly untangles what happened, visiting the story from the viewpoint of multiple people in the girls' community and revealing additional secrets.

Flickers from other books came pleasantly to mind as I read Visitation Street, including:
the psychic women, switching viewpoints, and cross-ethnic romance in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Junot Diaz);
the shape of a community as seen from different angles in The Emperor of Paris (C.S. Richardson);
the tragedy of children involved in street gang violence in Yummy (Greg Neri and Randy DuBurke);
self-harm as a way of coping with grief, as well as the street artist saviour in Beneath a Meth Moon (Jacqueline Woodson);
the currents dangerous to swimmers where the East River opens into the bay, as experienced by two college students in one of the stories in A Visit from the Goon Squad (Jennifer Egan);
and the rundown dockside bar and the ghosts in Sailor Twain (Mark Seigel).

Visitation Street is a gritty and hopeful story about the power of human connections. I loved it.

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