REVIEW: SEA CREATURES, BY SUSANNA DANIEL

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They fled from the home they had in Illinois, back to Miami where Georgia had grown up. Graham, Georgia, and their three-year-old son Frankie were trailing scandal and disappointment in their wake.

Their flight followed a string of incidents related to Graham’s sleep disorder. They would settle in a houseboat in the canal behind the home owned by Georgia’s father and stepmother. They were hoping for a chance to start over.

But soon the problems would resurface. When Graham takes a job that keeps him away from them for weeks at a time, they can almost forget the problems. The niggle of doubt remains, however.

Then Georgia starts working as an assistant for a man named Charlie. Nicknamed “The Hermit,” he lives in one of the stilt houses in the bay, and is an artist. Frankie accompanies his mother to the stilt house when she works, and soon is bonded to Charlie and loving the life on the water, as well as the sea inhabitants.

As I read Sea Creatures, I was reminded of the previous novel, Stiltsville: A Novel, as some of the characters from that novel showed up in this one. I was also drawn into the watery world that defined these characters, the foreboding that precedes hurricane season, and the constant dread about Graham and the threat he might pose.

Narrated in Georgia’s first person voice, we learn about her, her relationships, and the family dynamics, as the story moves back and forth over the years.

And as we follow along, there are questions that are slowly answered. Like why does Frankie stop speaking at the age of eighteen months? What events might have triggered this loss? How can Georgia help her son find his voice again, while still saving her family? What horrible event happens just before Hurricane Andrew that would change everything for her?

The story begins by showing what has happened and revealing bits and pieces of the new life they are creating. But always there is that sense of foreshadowing. That feeling that something horrific will happen that will destroy their hope. The characters felt so real, and as I watched them connect and then disengage, I felt such a sadness, as if the losses were my own. An emotional read that will stay with me. Five stars.

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