Tuesday, 24 November 2015

The Edge of Lost

Author: Kristina McMorris
Genre: Historical Fiction
Type: Kindle e-book
Source: NetGalley
Publisher: Kensington Books
First Published: November 24, 2015
First Line: "Alcatraz Island October 1937 - Fog encircled the island, a strangling grip, as search efforts mounted."

Book Description from GoodReadsOn a cold night in October 1937, searchlights cut through the darkness around Alcatraz. A prison guard’s only daughter—one of the youngest civilians who lives on the island—has gone missing. Tending the warden’s greenhouse, convicted bank robber Tommy Capello waits anxiously. Only he knows the truth about the little girl’s whereabouts, and that both of their lives depend on the search’s outcome.

Almost two decades earlier and thousands of miles away, a young boy named Shanley Keagan ekes out a living as an aspiring vaudevillian in Dublin pubs. Talented and shrewd, Shan dreams of shedding his dingy existence and finding his real father in America. The chance finally comes to cross the Atlantic, but when tragedy strikes, Shan must summon all his ingenuity to forge a new life in a volatile and foreign world.

Skillfully weaving these two stories, Kristina McMorris delivers a compelling novel that moves from Ireland to New York to San Francisco Bay. As her finely crafted characters discover the true nature of loyalty, sacrifice, and betrayal, they are forced to confront the lies we tell—and believe—in order to survive.

My Review:  The Edge of Lost is the kind of book that plunges you into its world and was so engaging that I read it in two sittings. It has two storylines, one being much more dominant, that finally converge towards the end of the book. The book starts in 1937 with a frantic search for a little girl who has gone missing on Alcatraz island. Then the book shifts back a couple of decades to Ireland and the main story which focuses on the tumultuous life of a young Irish boy, Shan Keagan who makes his way to America with the hopes to lives his dreams as an entertainer.  

Through Shan's eyes the reader gets a clear view of the immigrant experience as he moves to New York City.  He's an easy character to like and you can't help but root for him and the cast of secondary characters and the descriptions of New York City are vividly depicted.  While the reader gets engrossed in Shan's life the question of what happened to the missing child on Alcatraz still lingers.

I'd classify this book as a lighter historical fiction read.  Sure, it deals with some heavy situations (immigration, prohibition, prison, loss ...) and had some great writing but it still kept that lighter tone.  The only thing that lowered my rating of this book is that while I adored Shan's story, the storyline that focuses on the missing girl (the last third of the book) fell a little flat to me.  I guess I was expecting something grittier since it was set on Alcatraz island and more substantial since the missing girl is the focus of the book description. Also, towards the end of the book some of the twists felt far fetched and things wrapped up a little too nicely.  But in the end this was still a very enjoyable read and I liked how the two storylines were brought together towards the end of the book.

This is a coming of age story about about family - in all its forms, the immigrant experience and taking advantage of second and third chances.  Book clubs should check out the Q and A with the author at the back of the book for some great book club discussions.

My Rating: 4 stars

Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary e-book copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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