Bored and restless on a hot summer night in Red Hook, Brooklyn, 15-year-olds June and Val decide to take a pink raft down to the docks and float out into the bay. The next morning, Val is found unconscious under a pylon, but June remains missing. Her absence becomes a catalyst for new relationships and a weight for the residents trying to find a way out.
Red Hook, Brooklyn has become the butt of a lot of hipster jokes in the last couple of years, and along with the gentrification of the neighborhood and the devastation caused by hurricane Sandy in 2012, Red Hook has found itself in national headlines. Pochoda’s examination of this historic neighborhood takes place right on the cusp of this change. Visitation Street is about a specific place at a specific time, but feels remarkably universal. Most young people are reaching to move beyond the circumstances to which they’re born, and as young people from across the country move to newly cool Red Hook, many of the long-term residents of Red Hook are looking for a way out.
Ivy Pochoda’s Visitation Street presents the voices of this urban, changing neighborhood in the midst of tragedy. I often speed through books I like, wanting to find my way to the conclusion. But in Pochoda’s debut novel, I took my time. I genuinely liked Fadi, Cree, Val, Jonathan, Ren, and Monique — flaws and all.