Chosen by Denis Lehane for his eponymous imprint, Ivy Pochoda’s Visitation Street is a riveting literary mystery set against the rough-hewn backdrop of the New York waterfront in Red Hook.
It’s summertime in Red Hook, Brooklyn, a blue-collar dockside neighborhood. June and Val, two fifteen-year-olds, take a raft out onto the bay at night to see what they can see.
And then they disappear. Only Val will survive, washed ashore; semi-conscious in the weeds.
This shocking event will echo through the lives of a diverse cast of Red Hook residents. Fadi, the Lebanese bodega owner, hopes that his shop will be the place to share neighborhood news and troll for information about June’s disappearance. Cree, just beginning to pull it together after his father’s murder, unwittingly makes himself the chief suspect, but an enigmatic and elusive guardian is determined to keep him safe.
Val contends with the shadow of her missing friend and a truth she buries deep inside. Her teacher Jonathan, a Julliard School dropout and barfly, wrestles with dashed dreams and a past riddled with tragic sins.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Ivy Pochoda’s gripping mystery was published through crime superstar Dennis Lehane’s own imprint. On a sticky summer night in the working-class waterfront neighborhood of Red Hook, Brooklyn—where “trash rolls like tumbleweed”—bored teenagers June and Val impulsively steer a raft into the bay. Only Val washes ashore, and June’s disappearance rocks the tight-knit, diverse community. Nuanced and character-driven, Visitation Street reminds us of Lehane’s own street-smart bestsellers. But Red Hook native Pochoda has a distinct voice: Her exploration of class and racial inequality has a raw, lived-in authenticity.
Exquisitely written, Pochoda's poignant second novel examines how residents of Brooklyn's Red Hook neighborhood deal with grief, urban development, loss, and teenage angst. In a fit of boredom, 15-year-old best friends Val Marino and June Giatto take a raft out on the bay one July evening, but only Val returns, her unconscious body washed up on the shore. June's disappearance and what might have happened on the raft become the linchpin for Fadi, a Lebanese native who wants his bodega to be the pulse of neighborhood news; Jonathan Sprouse, a Julliard dropout with dark secrets; and 18-year-old Cree James, a kid from the projects who longs for a better life but remains stymied by his father's murder. Pochoda (The Art of Disappearing) couples a raw-edged, lyrical look at characters' innermost fears with an evocative view of Red Hook, a traditionally working-class area of Brooklyn undergoing gentrification that still struggles with racism and the aftermath of drug violence. By the end, the gap between "the front" of Red Hook with its well-tended streets near the waterfront and "the back" with its housing projects remains wide.
The book brought back memories of my childhood in Brooklyn. The way the author tells the story you can believe you are there in this place. Good story, very believable.
The story started off well and I read through the first few chapters quickly. However, what began as an great plot with fairly interesting characters turned into a very convoluted story trying to tell too many stories with not enough finesse. So many random stories were started and then never resolved, or even really addressed. Characters are developed well in the beginning and then get lost among the multiple, confused storylines. Not a book I would recommend.
This is well-written, but a bit dark and depressing. Smart but took awhile to get in to..