I really wanted to read Stewart O’nan’s Ocean State after enjoying his sympathetic and ironic portrait of Henry himself, a few years ago. This new novel seemed very different. It opened in 2009 just before Halloween and came with a handful of American sweets as part of its marketing package, including Tootsie Rolls, which are common in American fiction. For anyone interested, it is a bit like caramel, very soft and extremely hard. Ocean State is set in the small town of Rhode Island and sees Marie dealing with a devastating act of roughness when she was thirteen years old.

When I was in eighth grade, my sister helped finish another girl.

Marie loves her beautiful, naughty older sister. Smart, popular and sporty, Angel has been with her boyfriend for three years. As the end of high school approaches, she knows there is little hope of continuing their relationship – Myles comes from a rich and respectable background, while Angel’s mother action to keep the bills paid and constantly pursues the next man she believes will make her dreams come true, much to Angel’s disgust. While Carol continues to get entangled with inappropriate men and Angel is involved with Myles, Marie spends lonely evenings, eats too much, examines Angel’s room and drinks Carol’s Plonk. Meanwhile, Birdy has been sitting on the secret of his affair with Myles, becoming more involved in cheating, so it’s almost a relief when his careful tricks are revealed. We know from the very beginning what the result will be.

Sometimes I thought we might be safe, but even in my desire I didn’t really believe it.

The first judgement of this tense and quietly minimized novel creates excitement before taking the time to unfold the events that led to the execute. O’nan captures the intensity of young people’s love and desire in the context of a small town. The school is a hotbed of gossip, rivalry and speculation. Mary’s story frames her story, whose perspectives alternate between the four protagonists, which allows us to get to know each of them better. Myles, the spoiled rich handsome boy, seems almost irrelevant next to the complexity of the female characters that convince everyone, but it is Marie who is the star of the show, the quietly ruined keeper of secrets who seems to carry the heaviest burden. A compelling and

engaging novel-The bold stroke of this dramatic opening ad pays off.

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