Friday, 10 June 2016

"Aquarium" by David Vann

   I was excited to read this book because my granddaughter works in an aquarium and I thought I might be able to recommend this book to her. 
  I was very quickly drawn into the story of a 12-year-old girl, Caitlin,  visiting the aquarium every day after school to wait for her mother to pick her up after work.   Caitlin is fascinated by all the sea creatures and finds an elderly man there that loves to chat with her about the animals.  They develop a close relationship.
  The book at this point has pictures and information about sea creatures, like the ghost pipefish- very interesting critters.  I was loving this book when it took a turn for the worse and never recovered.
  This man in the aquarium turns out to be Caitlin's grandfather- the father of Caitlin's mother Sheri.  Caitlin lived with her mother and had never known about any other family members.
   Well, Caitlin's mother Sheri was furious to see this man who had left her and her mother when Sheri was a teenager and her mother was dying of cancer.  
   The old man was now filled with regret and apologies, AND he was wealthy.  But Sheri went on a rampage with Caitlin.  Sheri decided to teach Caitlin what it was like for her when her father left.  She pretends to be her dying mother and makes Caitlin care for her every physical need- dressing, feeding, cleaning messes, bathing.  It is disgusting and the story never recovers.
   Many people appreciated this as a story of a dysfunctional family. I wanted to continue the story of the young girl and old man wandering through the aquarium learning about the fish.  
  The book blurb says, "Relentless and heartbreaking, primal and redemptive."
   I will not be recommending this book to my granddaughter or anyone else. 

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