Aquarium by David Vann
Twelve year old Caitlin lives alone with her mother - a docker at the local container port - in subsidized housing next to an airport in Seattle. Each day, while she waits to be picked up after school, Caitlin visits the local aquarium to study the fish. Gazing at the creatures within the watery depths, Caitlin accesses a shimmering universe beyond her own. When she befriends an old man at the tanks one day, who seems as enamored of the fish as she, Caitlin cracks open a dark family secret and propels her once-blissful relationship with her mother toward a precipice of terrifying consequence.
Review by Brittany:
I received a free copy of this book as part of a Goodreads giveaway.
This book was interesting. The first thing that sticks out to me is the formatting. The dialogue was hard to follow at first because of a lack of quotation marks to differentiate between exposition and dialogue. This book also included pictures of the fish that Caitlin was observing during different parts of the books, a neat addition to the book that puts the reader right into the story.
I'm not sure if I liked this book or not. I did feel compelled to finish it, but that may have been largely due to the fact that I was hoping for the story to improve. I mostly felt sorry for Caitlin. About halfway through the book, the story takes a turn that made me despise her mother. I had that horrifying feeling of wondering why in the world some people have children. Caitlin's mother was awful to her from the middle to the end of the book.
Caitlin also formed a bit of a weird attachment to one of her school friends. The development of this relationship made me a bit uncomfortable and felt a bit unnecessary to the main theme of the book. I also thought Caitlin's teacher was made out to be superbly incompetent based on what happened in his classroom, another addition to the story that I felt was unnecessary.
Overall, it's hard to say that I would recommend this book. It's definitely not a happy story, but there's something almost horrifyingly compelling about it that made me continue to the end.