By Jennifer Egan
Scribner Book Company, Hardcover, 9781476716732, October 3, 2017, 448pp.
The Short of It:
A satisfying, well-told story about a young woman’s contribution to the war effort and how her family’s history shapes who she is.
The Rest of It:
The story begins with young Anna and her father Eddie, visiting the illustrious gangster Dexter Styles. Eddie needs the money for a special wheelchair for his crippled daughter, Anna’s younger sister Lydia so as a last resort, Eddie accepts the job that Dexter offers. Dexter is taken by Anna’s youth and her bold display of strength while visiting his home in Manhattan Beach. Years later, that brief encounter is remembered when Anna and Dexter meet again.
There is a lot of great storytelling in Manhattan Beach. Anna’s dedication to her sister Lydia, is fully explored as is her love of the sea and her inevitable path to becoming a diver for the war effort. Anna’s complex relationship with her father and the diving details Egan includes had me turning the pages quickly. Nothing felt rushed. Egan takes her time and the story unfolds effortlessly. I’ve read a few of her other books but this one by far is my favorite and I do not normally enjoy novels centered around war.
It’s early in the year but this could end up being on my list of faves for 2018.
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
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