Saturday, August 17, 2013

Visitation Street by Ivy Pochoda

3.5 Stars

June and Val are 15 year olds spending yet another boring summer in Red Hook, Brooklyn. On one hot night they decide to go for a float on a raft in the East River. Val ends up washed ashore, but June remains missing.

Word to the wise – don’t attempt to read this if you’re going to be subjected to a lot of distractions (i.e., don’t start it on the eve of the first day of school). Ivy Pochoda truly PAINTS the scene with her words. While Visitation Street is categorized as a mystery – loyalists to the whodunit may find themselves disappointed. Yes, there is the undercurrent of “what happened to June”, but the goings on of the neighborhood and its vivid cast of characters are the main story.

The picture painted by Pochoda is so vivid that I can immediately picture it as a movie - reminiscent of films like Sleepers and Gone Baby Gone. You know the type – filmed with either a grainy texture or in shadows to let you know you’re not in the best part of town. A cast of characters as plentiful and intriguing as Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (complete with a vivacious drag queen and someone who communes with the dead) that can be played by not-so-famous actors because the script is JUST. THAT. GOOD.

What could be considered information overload in some books, somehow is absolutely necessary in Visitation Street. You need to know every microscopic detail of the neighborhood and the people who live there in order to feel the pulse of this novel. Pochoda TAKES YOU to Red Hook (and the banter of chatty children who should be going to bed will yank you RIGHT BACK to reality so find yourself a little hidey-hole in which to read so the vision isn’t broken).

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