Manhattan Beach


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Manhattan Beach Book Review

Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan follows Anna, a young woman, on her path to self discovery in New York City during WWII. If this sounds similar to the plot of every third book available at your average Barnes and Noble, you’d be fairly astute.

There’s a mob boss, night clubs and champagne, a ‘modern’ friend with loose morals, a strained relationship with a missing father, the unbridled love of New York over every other place on earth and your usual white female empowerment storyline.

All that said, it is an entertaining story and well researched.  A unique facet of the story is that Anna sets her mind to scuba diving, and Egan paints a fascinating picture of what it was like for people to walk around under water in those early days of the field. And All. Of. The. Gear.

Egan also explores severe disability in this era, and the tools that families had to support their loved ones. Anna’s sister, Lydia, is non verbal and not able to walk. And yet, they live a few floors up in an apartment without an elevator, and men must carry Lydia downstairs in order for her to leave, and go to appointments that seem less than valuable. The story also explores the strong relationship between these two sisters, their love for one another, and their mutual love for the sea.

Another strength of the book is how Egan dives in to the Rosie the Riveters of the era. Some of their jobs, like the one Anna has initially, is less than glamours. She’s literally inspecting screws. All day. Every day. It also looks at the men’s less-than-receptive welcome for all of the women entering their fields.

Overall, it’s a fine novel, interesting, easy to read and has a fairly quick-moving plot. It’s a good break from your everyday life, though it’s not likely to turn it on its head and change it.

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