I’m a sucker for new books, but I don’t often read them, because of time limits, my library tower (graduated from stack), and my enormous TBR list in general. My sister recommended Jennifer Egan’s Manhattan Beach, and I saw it available at my library and put it in my basket on a whim (yes, I have officially gotten greedy to the point of getting basketfuls of books from the library—it’s a new first for me!). It was a great book to read on the airplane from my Florida vacation, and an interesting summer read in general. I have not read A Visit from the Goon Squad, which is Egan’s most famous novel, but after reading this, I need to bump it up on my TBR.
This novel takes place in a few separate timelines and with three major protagonists: Eddie Kerrigan, a down-on-his-luck family man who turns to odd jobs for mob bosses; Dexter Styles, for whom Eddie works; and Anna Kerrigan, our main protagonist and Eddie’s daughter who works in a factory during World War II and aspires to do something more ambitious with her life, while searching for the reason her father suddenly disappeared five years earlier. The three stories weave in and out of each other, which can make timing and sequence difficult to follow, but it does have a real noir sense about it, particularly in the relationship between Eddie and Dexter.
There was one plot point that had me fairly worried, but Egan did a great job with the resolution. She writes a complex narrative with interesting characters and a well-researched setting that was engrossing and also felt original. I am being deliberately vague about this book, so that you can experience it fresh, as I did. I think as little information as possible is the best way to approach this book. The plot structure is a little messy, but it’s an enjoyable read, all the same.
Cross-posted to my blog.