I'm just going to squeeze in ONE more micro-review here, for a book that my boss has been raving about for months. I've had it on my list, but as we have a small staff it behooves us not to read the same things all the time. Sometimes this means that one of the other of us never does get around to reading some really solid books, unfortunately.
I made room and time for this one, here at the tail end of the year, and I'm awfully glad I did.
Two young girls take a raft out on the river one night, and only one comes back. While not a traditional mystery (there's no crime being investigated), there are questions about what happened out there on the water that float over the surface of the deeper stories that arise from the denizens of Brooklyn's Red Hook neighborhood.
Cree is a young man haunted by the murder of his father. He finds a champion in a mysterious tag artist, Ren, who protects and encourages him. Fadi is the owner of a neighborhood bodega who tries to unite the neighborhood in the aftermath of the tragedy. Jonathan is a washed-up musician living on the fumes of past fame, now a teacher and rescuer of Val, the girl who came back from that ill-fated night on the raft, a role that leaves him feeling responsible for her well-being well after that night.
Although I've never been to Red Hook, there are neighborhoods much like this all over the country, place that leave even those who pass through casually with a sense of resignation and hopelessness. Even so, Pochoda's characters are so well-drawn that even those who are less than likable kept me interested in where their own story would wind up.