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.
""Blue-collar Red Hook, a section of Brooklyn’s waterfront in rough transition, becomes one big outdoor theater as temperatures rise in Pochoda’s (The Art of Disappearing, 2009) beyond-category urban drama. African American kids from the projects, including pretty Monique, a singer of soaring power, hang out in cliques and gangs, while Monique’s smart, ambitious cousin, Cree, keeps to himself in various hideouts, including his late father’s grounded fishing boat. An exceptionally talented young street artist lives in a makeshift shelter in a weedy area known as Bones Manor. Smart and observant Fadi strives to upgrade his bodega to attract the neighborhood’s new hipsters, among them lost-soul musician and music teacher Jonathan. On one particularly stifling night, Val and June, “hot and stir-crazy” white teenage girls, dare to take a pink rubber raft out onto the treacherous Hudson River. Val is found unconscious beneath the pier; June is missing. During the ensuing investigation, even the dead have their say. The mysteries of sexuality, guilt, race and class conflicts, artistic pursuits, and psychic abilities are all in play as Pochoda transforms Red Hook into a microcosm of human longing. With prose as cleansing and propelling as a sea breeze and characters running like strong currents, Pochoda pulls us deeply into this transfixing tale of visitations both alarming and liberating.""
—Donna Seaman, Booklist