Thursday, 28 January 2016

Visitation Street - Ivy Pochoda

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Imagine you are poor in the richest country in the world. Imagine that you live in the run-down end of Brooklyn NY. Imagine that you are never going to leave. And in these few streets and this little strip of water from where you can see Statton Island, New Jersey, Manhatten, there are people whose lives have been hit by tragedy. The girl who comes back from the dead after taking an inflatable out for a moonlight adventure with her friend who does not come back;  The boy whose father was shot dead when he was very young and his mother, haunted by the ghost of her husband.  Then there are the little people, the people who are always hoping that business will improve, even though the reader knows that this will never happen;  the down and outs, the drinkers, the parents who want more than this for their kids even though the readers knows this will never happen either.
A brilliant telling of poverty and what it does to a soul. Val, the girl who didn't drown; Cree, the black kid whose father was shot, Ren, a secretive older teen who seems set on looking out for Cree - these are the major characters here although everyone else is worth listening to.
But there is a righter of wrongs, here. Someone who can put a few things right. And because of what he does, things will change for some of those characters in the book.
The author lived in the area described so well for some years, and although I don't know it at all, she has captured it so that you can see smell and taste the lives of those who star in this book.Told in the present tense (She listens, he walks etc) but please don't be put off if this is not a style you normally like. An Amazon reviewer asks why this book is not better known, and I wish I knew, it is a compelling story and deserves a greater readership.