Wednesday, June 3, 2015


Two 15-year-old girls are looking for adventure one night in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn.  Val persuades June to join her on a pink pool float in New York Bay.  Cree, a former boyfriend of Val’s sister, sees the two girls as they launch the flimsy raft, realizes how foolhardy their escapade is, and starts to swim after them.  Finding that he will never catch them in the current, he has to turn back.  The next morning, Jonathan Sprouse, a music teacher at the girls’ school, finds Val washed up under the pier.  She survives, but June and the raft have disappeared.  This story is gripping, and not just because we want to find out what happened to June.  These denizens of Red Hook, plus Fadi, who owns a bodega and prints a community newsletter, and Ren, a talented graffiti artist who does odd jobs for Fadi, draw us into their bleak and sometimes violent world.  Cree’s father Marcus died from a mindless gunshot wound, and Cree’s mother, a nurse who still hears Marcus’s voice in her head, refuses to leave the neighborhood.   Jonathan drinks too much and squanders his musical talent, accompanying a drag queen on piano on weekends.  He feels an affinity for Val and the guilt that is consuming her.  Ren is sort of a shadowy character but seems to have a good heart, instructing his minions to keep tidy the bench where Cree’s father was shot and spiffing up Cree’s father’s boat.  His role in the girls’ misadventure is a mystery.  Fadi is the eternal optimist, displaying posters offering a reward for information leading to June’s whereabouts, long after everyone else has given up hope.  Val is as lost as any teenager would be after losing her best friend, but her role in June’s disappearance makes life unbearable, and she turns to Jonathan for solace.  He has ghosts of his own to deal with and is certainly not an appropriate shoulder for Val to lean on anyway.  My favorite character might be Dawn/Don, the chanteuse in drag, who packs a mean punch when the situation calls for it, even in 5-inch heels.

No comments: