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Review: Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt

Title: Remarkably Bright Creatures
Author: Shelby Van Pelt
Year published: 2022
Category: Adult fiction
Pages: 368 pages
Rating: 5 out of 5

Location: (my 2022 Google Reading map)USA (CA, WA)

SummaryFor fans of A Man Called Ove, a charming, witty and compulsively readable exploration of friendship, reckoning, and hope that traces a widow's unlikely connection with a giant Pacific octopus

After Tova Sullivan’s husband died, she began working the night shift at the Sowell Bay Aquarium, mopping floors and tidying up. Keeping busy has always helped her cope, which she’s been doing since her eighteen-year-old son, Erik, mysteriously vanished on a boat in Puget Sound over thirty years ago.

Tova becomes acquainted with curmudgeonly Marcellus, a giant Pacific octopus living at the aquarium. Marcellus knows more than anyone can imagine but wouldn’t dream of lifting one of his eight arms for his human captors—until he forms a remarkable friendship with Tova.

Ever the detective, Marcellus deduces what happened the night Tova’s son disappeared. And now Marcellus must use every trick his old invertebrate body can muster to unearth the truth for her before it’s too late. 

Shelby Van Pelt’s debut novel is a gentle reminder that sometimes taking a hard look at the past can help uncover a future that once felt impossible.

Review: What a fantastic novel! And just look at that cover... beautiful. This is a book I want people to read so that I can talk about it with them.

The characters in this book are wonderful, especially the main three characters: Tova, the old woman; Marcellus, the octopus; and Cameron, the young man. I loved all three of them. I liked their interactions, their history, their voices, and their outcomes. Each of them is searching for something, is thoughtful, and they can all help each other in some way.

And the story is lovely. It's about friendship, family, and loss. Lots of loss, but handled in such a positive way. Yes, I cried near the end, which I did not expect. And I don't mean just getting teary; I had drops rolling down my cheeks. I highly recommend this book! I listened to the audiobook and the narrator was perfect.

Challenges for which this counts: none
  • Popsugar--Duology (2 related novels)--both have a "talking" animal that is a main character (with Lessons in Chemistry)

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