Author: Crissy Van Meter
Genre: Literary Fiction
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Publication Date: January 7, 2020
Rating: 4 / 5 Stars
Source: Physical copy provided by publisher
Creatures by Crissy Van Meter is a short, but impactful book. It is a very moving story about the things that affect us through every stage of life.
The story follows a woman named Evie. When it begins she is days away from her wedding and her mother shows up on her doorstep. We soon discover this is what her mother has done all throughout Evie’s life; just shown up for a few days at a time, only to leave again. As the story continues, it goes forward and back in time as we learn more about Evie.
As a child, Evie’s mother left her and her father to make their own way on a small island off the coast of California. Evie’s father is an alcoholic and does various odd jobs in order to try and keep the two of them afloat. But much of Evie’s childhood is spent couch surfing her father’s friends, living on boats, or just camping when they had no place else to stay.
Throughout the years, Evie’s mother will return only to take off again leaving Evie feeling abandoned. This is a feeling that she struggles with in all of her relationships and we see how she copes, and many times doesn’t cope with this.
It’s a beautifully told, strange little story that really has an ebb and flow just like the ocean. It resonated with me and will definitely stick with me for a long while.
Thank you so much to Algonquin for sending me a copy of this book to review!
“Once, my mother talked about atmospheric pressure. Said there was pressure all over, even in the deepest, darkest trench. My mother didn’t like this pressure, said it felt like she might explode. She closed the windows and used wooden dowels to lock them shut. I said something like, There’s so much pressure that your heart can explode.
When she went away, I learned this pressure, the weight inside my chest. There was the pressure of missing things, the leaving of things, the invisible weight that felt so thick, even when everything was still moving. She taught me the constant foreboding of implosion.”
-Crissy Van Meter, Creatures
Synopsis: On the eve of Evangeline’s wedding, a dead whale is trapped in the harbor of Winter Island, the groom may be lost at sea, and Evie’s mostly absent mother has shown up out of the blue. From there, in this mesmerizing, provocative debut, Evie remembers and reckons with her complicated upbringing in this lush, wild land off the coast of Southern California.
Evie grew up with her well-meaning but negligent father, surviving on the money he made dealing the island’s world-famous strain of marijuana, Winter Wonderland. Although he raised her with a deep respect for the elements, the sea, and the creatures living within it, he also left her to parent herself. With wit, love, and bracing ashes of anger, Creatures probes the complexities of love and abandonment, guilt and forgiveness, betrayal and grief—and the ways in which our ability to love can be threatened if we are not brave enough to conquer the past.
Lyrical, darkly funny, and ultimately cathartic, Creatures exerts a pull as strong as the tides.
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