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Visitation Street: A Novel

Visitation Street: A Novel

3.7 64
by Ivy Pochoda

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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


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.

Editorial Reviews

It was a dumb idea, the type of brainstorm that hits bored teenagers. Impulsive fifteen-year-old Val convinces herself and then her best friend June to jump on a raft and float away on New York's East River into the bay. What happens next, all too predictably, is tragedy. Only Val herself survives, but that, in Ivy Pochada's engulfing new novel, is only the beginning. A powerful, well-written novel that balance vivid psychological and subtly building suspense. (P.S. This is a Dennis Lehane Novel. He endorses it as "urban opera writ large. Gritty and magical, filled with mystery, poetry, and pain....")

Publishers Weekly
Exquisitely written, Pochoda’s poignant second novel examines how residents of Brooklyn’s Red Hook neighborhood deal with grief, urban development, loss, and teenage angst. In a fit of boredom, 15-year-old best friends Val Marino and June Giatto take a raft out on the bay one July evening, but only Val returns, her unconscious body washed up on the shore. June’s disappearance and what might have happened on the raft become the linchpin for Fadi, a Lebanese native who wants his bodega to be the pulse of neighborhood news; Jonathan Sprouse, a Julliard dropout with dark secrets; and 18-year-old Cree James, a kid from the projects who longs for a better life but remains stymied by his father’s murder. Pochoda (The Art of Disappearing) couples a raw-edged, lyrical look at characters’ innermost fears with an evocative view of Red Hook, a traditionally working-class area of Brooklyn undergoing gentrification that still struggles with racism and the aftermath of drug violence. By the end, the gap between “the front” of Red Hook with its well-tended streets near the waterfront and “the back” with its housing projects remains wide. Agent: Kim Witherspoon at Inkwell Management. (July)
Library Journal
Pochoda's second novel (after The Art of Disappearing) is the second book from Dennis Lehane's eponymous imprint at Ecco (after Attica Locke's The Cutting Season), and it's easy to see why he's throwing his significant weight behind her work. Set in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn, the novel opens on a warm summer evening when 15-year-old Val and June push a small pink raft onto the bay and set sail. Only Val makes it back to shore, and as the resulting drama unspools as readers meet a full cast of utterly believable characters including Fadi, a shopkeeper-turned-newsman; Cree, a local boy who winds up targeted by the police; and Jonathan, a music teacher who gets entangled in the mystery of June's disappearance. It's an opera set in one small community, and as Val struggles to cope with the loss of her friend and the neighborhood characters play their parts, large and small, Pochoda's riveting prose will keep readers enthralled until the final page. VERDICT The prose is so lyrical and detailed that readers will easily imagine themselves in Red Hook. A great read for those who enjoy urban mysteries and thrillers with a literary flair. [See Prepub Alert, 1/14/13; see also an interview with Lehane about his new imprint in Kristi Chadwick's Mystery Genre Spotlight feature, LJ 4/15/13.—Ed.]—Amy Hoseth, Colorado State Univ. Lib., Fort Collins
Entertainment Weekly
“A stunner of a literary thriller. Grade A-” -Entertainment Weekly
“Utterly transporting.”-People
Deborah Harkness
Visitation Street explores a community’s response to tragedy with crystalline prose, a dose of the uncanny, and an unblinking eye for both human frailty and resilience. Marvelous.”
Emma Straub
“Ivy Pochoda makes the saltiness of Brooklyn’s Red Hook come to life so vividly that every time I looked up from the pages of this intoxicating novel, I was surprised not to be there. Visitation Street is imbued with mystery and danger.
Dennis Lehane
Visitation Street is urban opera writ large. Gritty and magical, filled with mystery, poetry and pain, Ivy Pochoda’s voice recalls Richard Price, Junot Diaz, and even Alice Sebold, yet it’s indelibly her own.”
Michael Koryta
Visitation Street [is] beautiful, haunting. Ivy Pochoda brings forth the full palette of human emotions in this gripping urban drama, a story that hurts you on one page and gives you hope on the next. A marvelous novel.”
Lionel Shriver
“Pochoda’s premise is inspired, the novel that unfolds even more so. Rich characters, surprising shifts of plot and mood. I loved it.” -Lionel Shriver, award winning author of We Need to Talk About Kevin
Los Angeles Times
“VISITATION STREET is a quiet, literary thriller told in lyrical, exacting prose. It’s in the vein of Donna Tartt’s “The Secret History” or Alice Sebold’s “The Lovely Bones”—Los Angeles Times”

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HarperCollins Publishers
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Meet the Author

Ivy Pochoda grew up in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn and lived in Red Hook for several years. She is the author of The Art of Disappearing. She attended Harvard University, where she studied classical Greek. She also holds an MFA from Bennington College in Fiction. A former professional squash player, she lives in Los Angeles with her husband.

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Visitation Street 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 64 reviews.
JonathanBell More than 1 year ago
Ivy Pochoda has written a great thriller in Visitation Street. The characters are interesting. The story unfolds at the perfect pace. This is a real page turner. Hard to put down.
KarenWalters More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. It revs up fast and is filled with twists and turns. Characters like the barfly Julliard drop out keep the story interesting. This one is a real page turner.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really thought this book rambled on and on and there was no real mystery here. It was clear from the start what happened to the girls. I continued to read to see if the conclusion was different than the obvious, and it was not. I did not like this book and felt it was kind of a waste of time for me.
JudithMoMo More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the book but did not find it compelling,meaning, it did not compel me to move forward. It is written very well, the characters are very real, the writing is intelligent. and she captures her old neighborhood with wonderful natural flavors. I think I may have expected more because Dennis Lehane highly endorsed it....I did not feel the need to read to find out what happened, there was none of that. Great story, but I didn't have a hard time putting it down....and that's how I know if I love the story/book.
MSYogaChick More than 1 year ago
I chose this book initially because it's a mystery, who-done-it. But as I became absorbed in the story, I was far more interested in getting to know the primary and secondary characters and less obsessed with solving the central mystery. Don't get me wrong...the mystery is important, but the characters and their racially diverse neighborhood is very compelling.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great character development. I felt like I knew each character well and never wanted this book to end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A top notch second novel from an emerging talent.  More than a mystery -- a compelling and insightful examination of the intricate interpersonal relationships in a complex New York neighborhood.
gloriafeit More than 1 year ago
The author paints a vivid portrait of Brooklyn’s Red Hook section, an area alongside the East River which juxtaposes predominantly white residents of the waterside two- and three-story brick houses with its nearby minority-filled housing projects and abandoned warehouses . The tale opens in the middle of a heat wave, when two fifteen-year old girls, Valerie and June, Catholic school students, follow the seductive call of adventure to escape the boredom of their lives (a recurring theme throughout the novel), taking a small pink raft into the water a short walk away from their homes. Almost predictably, their little boat is no match for the strong currents. The outcome: Val is discovered by an area resident, unconscious; June is nowhere to be found, and the worst is feared. The remainder of the book describes the effects of the tragedy on the neighborhood, told from various points of view, most profoundly Val’s, almost literally haunted by the scenes replayed on a constant loop in her mind, filled with guilt at not having saved her friend. Those are nearly constant themes of the book as well: guilt, and the living being haunted by the dead, or those feared dead. Red Hook, with its history of drugs, racism, and similar ills, comes alive as much as any of the fascinating characters who live and work there in this author’s poetic prose. This reader knows the area well, and it is very realistically portrayed here. The blue-collar residents hope for salvation with the eagerly anticipated arrival of large cruise ships at the new passenger terminal, while meanwhile scraping by as best they can. The novel is not at all what I expected, which was a crime novel along the lines of the books by Dennis Lehane, under whose imprint this book was published, the second under his aegis. In that sense I was somewhat disappointed, I must admit. But the book is quite original, and I suspect that my disappointment will not be shared by most readers.
nuee More than 1 year ago
Humor, sadness, conflict, racism, stupidity, brilliance - if humans can be it or do it, it is in this book. Red Hook is a microcosm of where we all live. That there is a crime to solve adds to the mix and waiting for the ship to arrive is frosting on the cake - well, frosting that is pretty but has a bad taste. Read it.
JBernardo More than 1 year ago
The author managed to capture the entire Red Hook experience and I was so surprised considering she was this white girl. I grew up in Carroll Gardens and was shocked how she got the grittiness of Red Hook so accurately. Really interesting story that kept me reading until it was done. Good story. Loved it! Can't wait for her next book!
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Just an average book.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book! This was an interesting story of loss, love, discovery, changes, friendship, giving and grieving. It focuses on a handful of people and how there lives interconnect. Great story!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent sense of place, Red Hook comes to life- characters not so well drawn, but a good story