Review: ‘Ocean State’, a love story, both good and bad

“The State of the Ocean”, by Stewart O’Nan (Grove Press)

In Stewart O’Nan’s “Ocean State,” the very first line reveals that a teenage girl was murdered – and also who did it. Angel killed Birdy, we learn, because they were both in love with the same boy, tangled in a passionate love triangle wrought with endless secrets and zealous anger. From there, O’Nan takes readers through the events leading up to Birdy’s fateful end, as well as the ensuing investigation.

This cover image published by Grove Press shows

This cover image published by Grove Press shows “Ocean State” by Stewart O’Nan. (Grove Press via AP)

The book alternates between the perspectives of the women at the center of this tragedy. Angel and Birdy tell their own stories, but also Angel’s mother, Carol, and sister, Marie, who face their own personal struggles while coming to terms with the fact that someone they dearly love has done something. unimaginable. .

“Ocean State” is above all a story of the things that love does to us, both beautiful and terrible.

The book will immediately draw a reader in, but it ultimately fails to deliver the twisted plot suspense that its opening seems to promise. What you learn on that very first page eventually turns out more or less the way you’d expect, without any shocking twists as to why the answer comes so quickly.


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