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by Douglas Rees

Pub Date: May 8th, 2018
ISBN: 978-0-7624-6303-9
Publisher: Running Press

After Elektra Kamenides’ mother packs her and her younger sister, Thalia, into the car and announces that they are leaving her father in Mississippi and moving to California, Elektra invokes her mantra: What Would Odysseus Do?

The 16-year-old daughter of Nikos, a prominent scholar of ancient Greece, and Helen, an aspiring author, Elektra is dismayed to find that the boat her mother purchased sight unseen is a roach-infested, mud-bound wreck in a forgotten town outside Silicon Valley. Always close to her father, even Thalia’s endless chipperness and her mother’s insistence that they must, like Emily Dickinson, “dwell in possibility,” cannot lift Elektra’s spirits. The little family is battered by financial troubles, a shocking revelation about Nikos, and the struggle to adapt to living on the cramped, run-down boat. However, they are embraced by the colorful locals who, united in their personal and economic struggles, offer unconditional acceptance. A rich sense of place, clever dialogue, and a charming sibling relationship make this novel stand out. Disappointingly, the book is marked by an absence of modern Greek cultural texture; although Nikos’ father was a Greek immigrant and the entire family recently returned from a sabbatical year spent living in Greece, all the Greek references relate to ancient times. The cast is Latinx and white, and one character has PTSD.

An engaging choice for fans of realistic fiction, simultaneously tugging at the heartstrings and uplifting the spirit.

(Fiction. 12-adult)