Sea Creatures

Posted: Tuesday, March 11, 2014, 9:45 am

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Sea Creatures

Susanna Daniel


reserve now!

Jeff R


General fiction

families, marriage and parenting

In brief


"Sea Creatures" examines the strength of parental love, and offers proof of our capacity to correct a course and move forward.

Maybe it was the constant references to south Florida's gauzy, stifling heat. Maybe it was all the sleepless nights endured by the narrator and her husband. Maybe it was the mute child. I can't quite put my finger on it, but some alchemy at work in Susanna Daniel's latest novel brought to life a family drama that borders on the surreal.

The premise is straightforward enough: Georgia Quillan and her husband Graham relocate from Chicago to Miami with their young son Frankie. The cause for their relocation is twofold: Georgia's business failure and Graham's nearly unmanageable sleeping disorder. Miami would promise a fresh start but for the fact that Frankie has abruptly stopped speaking, Graham's sleep disorder continues to present challenges and the Atlantic hurricane season is nigh. Oh, and someone thought it would be a good idea to live on a houseboat.

What follows is part family drama (Will the family survive?), part mystery (Why won't Frankie speak?) and part exploration into the myriad ways that personal bonds can fracture and disintegrate. Daniel has a keen eye for those fleeting and seemingly insignificant moments that can make or break relationships, and she focuses on them with the skill of anthropologist. Readers accustomed to stories that highlight that magical ability of relationships to "make us whole" will find little comfort here. Sea Creatures is a study in near heart-breaking imperfections.

That said, Sea Creatures is also a study in resiliency. It examines the strength of parental love and offers proof of our capacity to correct a course, carve out a space and move forward, however imperfectly.