One sweltering summer night in Red Hook, Brooklyn, Val and her best friend June take their inflatable raft onto the bay—but only one of them returns home. Searching for answers and pertinent evidence, their neighborhood is shaken as residents attempt to solve the biggest mystery they’ve ever witnessed. Ivy Pochoda’s second novel, Visitation Street, uncovers Red Hook’s secrets, delving deep into a girl’s disappearance and the ghosts that arise in its wake.
As summertime wanes, 15-year-olds June and Val are craving adventure. Lanky and fair-haired, Val is timid and demure compared to June, her gregarious best friend. Much to Val’s dismay, June has developed into a buxom young woman seemingly overnight, and her priorities are shifting to a place where Val may no longer fit. Aiming to keep their friendship alive, Val suggests the two take a late-night ride out on the bay. A reluctant June agrees, and the girls set out in the unlit, humid streets of Red Hook. Moments after their raft is afloat, the two girls disappear. Only Val washes up on shore, badly bruised and semi-conscious.
Shocked by this unsettling event, the residents of Red Hook must deal with the aftermath of June’s disappearance. Cree, a friend of the girls who has just faced his own family tragedy, finds himself at the center of the police investigation. Fadi, a local bodega owner, uses his storefront to publicize June’s disappearance in hopes that it will become the neighborhood’s headquarters for news. Jonathan Sprouse, music appreciation teacher and frequent boozer, battles with his personal ties to the tragedy. In the middle of it all, pain-stricken Val buries a dark secret about that night, only revealing it to the one she trusts most.
A literary mystery, Pochoda’s story weaves through the haunting atmosphere of Red Hook, where drugs, drinking and violence dominate the streets. Truths about Red Hook are cleverly hidden throughout the novel, allowing the reader to determine which characters can be trusted. Full of vivid imagery and striking characters, Visitation Street ends with a bang you won’t want to miss.