The second title in a line of books bearing the imprint of Dennis Lehane and published by HarperCollins, "Visitation Street," is a gritty urban drama written by Ivy Pochoda. (Ecco/Dennis Lehane, HarperCollins, 306 pages)
The story is set in Red Hook, New York, a blue-collar neighborhood of Brooklyn where the East River runs into the bay.
On a hot summer night, two 15-year-old girls, Val and June, decide to take a trip on a raft floating out on the water.
But the night of fun becomes a nightmare when the raft overturns and one of the girls, June, disappears and is presumed to have drowned. Her friend, Val, washes up on shore where she is discovered by a down on his luck musician.
A young black teenager, Acretius "Cree" James, whose father was killed in a senseless gang shooting, witnessed the girls falling into the water and tried, without success, to rescue them.
As the sensitive and innocent Cree struggles with yet another tragedy, he finds himself shadowed by a mysterious man named Ren who acts as his guardian and warns him that his attempt at rescuing the girls could be misconstrued. Things reach a pivotal moment when Cree finds out the identity of Ren and his relationship to Cree and his family.
While the theme of a young person bearing the responsibility for the death of a best friend is reminiscent of John Knowles' "A Separate Peace," Pochoda's work is more contemporary and the cast of characters from a racially divided Brooklyn give it a certain edgy element.
Pochoda's "Visitation Street" highlights the way in which a tragedy resonates differently among persons in a multicultural metropolitan area. One feels for the people of this area who have suffered so much because of Hurricane Sandy.
The reader may note that the book was recommended by Lionel Shriver, author of the haunting novel "We Need to Talk About Kevin." Though I missed the book, I did see the movie, which is a devastatingly realistic horror movie that frightfully foreshadows the Sandy Hook massacre.