Drama, Historical Fiction

Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Even before I began reading this novel, I saw it everywhere. It was on the hot and trending list at the local library, on display at all the major bookstores, and so many people I knew had a copy of it and were reading it! Well, that just made me want to get onto reading this book sooner! So here is my review:

It is Brooklyn, during the Great Depression. 12 year old Anna Kerrigan goes with her father to the house of a man who is crucial to the survival of her family. Anna observes the beautiful home with its servants, the lavish toys the children own, and the secret pact her father makes with Dexter Styles. Years later, Anna’s father has disappeared and the country is at war. Anna works at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, where she becomes the first female diver. Her job is a dangerous one: repairing the ships that will help America win the war. But this is the only way for her to provide for her mother and her lovely, severely disabled sister. And when she meets Styles unexpectedly at a nightclub, the man she visited with her father all those years ago, she finally begins to understand the complexity of her father’s life.

I didn’t like this novel. Yes, I went straight to the point: this novel just wasn’t for me. It started off interestingly enough, introducing us to young Anna whom I really liked. However, that went away pretty quickly and then I had to make myself get through this overly long and boring story. Even though this novel is pretty much all about plot, it was still extremely slow. I literally had to force myself to get through it because it just felt like nothing was really happening. I was also quite confused with the direction the author was taking. Is it about being the first female working as a diver? Is it about gangsters? I still don’t know. I also felt like the author treated the characters as expendable; they were there one minute, gone the next, and would just reappear again to “conveniently” serve some mundane purpose before dying or going away. That bothered me to no end. In the end, this novel just had too many flaws for me to enjoy it. The highest I’m giving this novel is a 1/5 stars.

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