Shelby Van Pelt’s Extraordinarily Bright Creatures

genre: contemporary fiction

Tova lives alone. Having lost both her son and her husband to different tragic circumstances, she found solace working the night shift at the Sowell Bay Aquarium. As she mops the floors and empties the trash cans, she manages to strike up something of a wild friendship with the big Pacific octopus in residence: Marcellus. Marcellus is another one of our storytellers, as he is particularly cunning with a kind of feisty old man personality that shines through in his “journal entries”. What Marcellus discovers and how Tova’s life changes when a stranger comes to town are at the heart of this heartwarming book about the ties that bind us.

I give it five brilliant stars. I was captured by Marcellus within the first two pages. I can see why some readers might have a hard time believing a story with an animal as the narrator, but I totally fell in love. His voice and his perspective were so surprisingly insightful that I realized my brain was excited every time I turned the page and it was his turn to tell the story. I felt that Tova’s pain was real and that his behavior made sense to me. The other characters in the book were complex with their own issues and while I was able to figure some things out in the last 1/3 of the book, it still didn’t happen exactly as I’d guessed and I was very happy with the ride. Maybe it’s a case of right book, right time, but this is one I want on my shelf.

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