Aquarium – David Vann
Twelve-year-old Caitlin lives alone with her mother—a docker at the local container port—in subsidised housing next to an airport in Seattle. Each day, while she waits to be picked up after school, Caitlin visits the local aquarium to study the fish. Gazing at the creatures within the watery depths, Caitlin accesses a shimmering universe beyond her own. When she befriends an old man at the tanks one day, who seems as enamoured of the fish as she, Caitlin cracks open a dark family secret and propels her once-blissful relationship with her mother toward a precipice of terrifying consequence.
I was gifted this wonderful book my a friend of mine from PRH, and I was instantly struck by the beautifully illustrated cover – it drew me in straight away.
It took me a little while to actually get around to reading the book, I’m embarrassed to admit, as I wasn’t so taken with the blurb on the back, it didn’t immediately grab me.
However, once I picked it up and got started I was pleasantly surprised and found it difficult to put down (I finished it on my commute one day to and from work, it was that good!).
The story focuses on twelve-year-old Caitlin who lives with her mother in subsidised housing next to an airport in Seattle. Each day, while waiting to be picked up by her mother after school, Caitlin visits the local aquarium to gaze upon the variety of different fish housed there.
One day, whilst within the aquarium, Caitlin unknowingly befriends an old man who begins talking to her about the fish. He has a passion for the sea creatures like Caitlin, and she enjoys educating him about all she knows about aquatic life.
Though she doesn’t know it, Caitlin’s encounter with the old man from the aquarium is about to blow open a dark family secret and will change everything Caitlin thought she knew about her mother.
This is a fantastic read, and I found it a real page turner. Caitlin is such a likeable and relatable character, you can’t help but be endeared by her charm. Her twelve-year-old characteristics are written beautifully and whilst reading I felt like I was reading about myself as a twelve-year-old.
It takes some dark turns, but even these are gorgeously written and really pull you in emotionally as Caitlin battles with some inner-family demons.
A highly recommended read, and one that won’t be leaving my personal library for a while.