Goodreads Choice Awards – Nominee for Best Fiction (2022) and Nominee for Best Debut (2022)
Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt is a beautiful story about love and family bonds. If I were to narrow this story down to one word, that word would be: gentle. From the pacing, to the setting, to the interactions between the characters … there’s an ever-present gentleness throughout.
This story is a mix of mystery and magical realism. It centers around the lives of:
- Tova: The seventy-year-old cleaning lady at the Sowell Bay Aquarium. Her husband recently died, and thirty years ag her eighteen-year old son left home for work and never returned. His disappearance is an unresolved mystery.
- Marcellus: A 60-pound Giant Pacific Octopus who lives at the Aquarium. He’s intelligent and escapes his tank from time to time, while the aquarium is closed.
- Cameron: A thrirty-year-old man who’s had a tough upbringing and is still struggling to get his life in order. He was raised by his aunt; his mother abandoned him when he was nine, and he never knew his father.
The story is told from three POVs of Tova, Cameron, and Marcellus, which is effective in keeping the story engaging and mysterious throughout. As bits and pieces of each of these character’s lives and experiences are revealed, it’s up to the reader to arrange them into the puzzle of the story. At times the story leans towards the predictable, but it works because the focus of the story is on the journey of the three characters as they find their way.
Initially, I didn’t know what to expect from this story, and definitely didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. Based on the popularity of this book and the intrigue of the giant octopus, though, I knew I should give it a try. Now, I get it. I absolute get why this debut novel is so popular and highly rated. It’s a remarkable story!
I’m pretty sure part of the reason I enjoyed this story so much, is because I listened to the audiobook. I highly recommend it. Marin Ireland and Michael Urie will absolutely transport you into the story.
This book is part of My Fall 2022 Reading List.
Have you read this story yet? If so, did you listen to the audiobook?