Thursday, February 19, 2015

Aquarium; David Vann

Aquarium; David Vann
Atlantic Monthly Press - March 2015

Aquarium is an addictive read that hooked me early on, shocked me as the story progressed and made me wonder whether emotionally wounded individuals can ever truly heal.

The story opens in 1990's Seattle, where 12-year-old Caitlin lives in a tiny apartment with her mother Sheri.  Sheri works long hours at the local container port to support the two of them.  Together their life has been built on routine. They wake early, have breakfast, and then mom rushes off to work and Caitlin goes to school. She is always the first kid to arrive at school.  Mom works overtime whenever possible, and Caitlin goes to the "aquarium" after school until her mother is done with work.  This arrangement was cheaper than childcare, but Caitlin doesn't mind, she loves her time spent at the aquarium, and is fascinated by all of the exotic fish she visits with each day. She hopes to study the science of fish when she gets older. When day is done sometimes Caitlin and her mom collapse together or talk briefly, unless Sheri has her boyfriend over, and then Caitlin is off to her room.

One day Caitlin befriends an elderly man at the aquarium, the two talk about the fish. Soon every time she goes to the aquarium, the man is there as well and soon they begin to talk about more than just fish. Caitlin likes the man and is unafraid, so when he asks a favor of her, she thinks nothing of telling her mother.  No way could Caitlin have anticipated how her mother would react, and the horrific consequences that would result as a result of the situation which has been set in motion.  The mother/daughter relationship will forever be changed.

I loved everything about this simple, but well crafted story.  Caitlin is such a strong, and brave young girl. She's smart, inquisitive and longs to be loved. Despite the situation over which she has no control, she displays a childlike determination to make things right.

The book contains lovely color photographs of exotic fish which is such a nice touch.  Readers who enjoy stories about dysfunctional childhoods or coming of age stories, this is one of the best of its kind that I've read in a long time. Be prepared to be shocked! A word of caution -- a few reviews out there give away some significant spoilers, do yourself a favor, and just dive in, too much detail will spoil the experience for you.  So far this is my favorite read of 2015.

5/5 stars
(eGalley)

17 comments:

  1. Boy, does that sound good! I'm VERY curious about the favor and why the mom reacted that way.

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    1. You have to give this a try Kathy. It is not a long book, but, wow it packs a punch.

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  2. That's quite a recommend Diane. I will get this.

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  3. Diane, you've "sold" me on this book. It sounds fascinating!

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  4. After reading your review, I'm definitely curious to know what happened. Thanks for revealing just the right amount of information.

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  5. You are welcome Pat - I hope you are curious enough to try this one.

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  6. This does sound good! I loved Legend of a Suicide, but all the other Vann's I've read have been disappointing imitations of that first book. It sounds as though this is a bit different and as you say it is your fav read of 2015 so far I'll give him another try :-)

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  7. Vann is a great writer. His other stuff is very very dark but great.

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  8. Wow, this sounds fabulous! I will have to read it!

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  9. Ok, I'm interested enough to add this to my to-read list. And I like aquariums.

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  10. Wow, this sounds great! This is the first time I've heard of it. And I appreciate the warning about spoilers - I hate when a reviewer gives away too much - sometimes even the book jacket says too much!

    Sue

    Book By Book

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  11. I don't know how I haven't seen this one around but I've purposely kept your review unread until I had time to get the book added to my wish list after I caught the word "addictive." No better hook!

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