Review: Ocean State

Ocean State

Ocean State
By Stewart O’Nan
Grove Press, 9780802159274, March 15, 2022, 240pp.

The Short of It:

Only O’Nan could write a story where the murderer’s identity is revealed in the first paragraph and he still manages to hold my interest.

The Rest of It:

This is a simple story, really. Two young girls, in love with the same boy. The push-pull tension of the story is laid out slowly in its less than 250 pages. Angel knows that her boyfriend has been seeing another girl, Birdy, but in her mind, there is no other outcome possible. She will be with him and Birdy won’t be. How she gets to that decision is how the story plays out.

Angel’s younger sister Marie, reflects on that autumn where it all went wrong. There’s plenty of familial tension but it’s all a little gritty and unsavory and I had a hard time liking any of the characters. I felt empathy for Marie, having to deal with the aftermath of Angel’s actions and her losing the only person she was really close to. But if you are a fan of O’Nan’s, what you might miss in this story is the sense of place that he so elegantly builds in his other books. Other than that, I enjoyed Marie’s reflections on sisters, mothers, and life in general.

Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

10 thoughts on “Review: Ocean State”

  1. I agree this wasn’t his best. I liked the RI setting and recall being bugged on audio by the mispronunciation of actual places by the reader. The older I get, the more I seem to have little patience for teen angst.

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