Books: The Odd Sea: Frederick Reiken

Frederick Reiken

In some traceless way, through some unfindable hole in time, childhood vanishes. That's the haunting, unstated theme of this extraordinarily good first novel. The title is a child's way of saying "odyssey," and the voyage at the novel's core is that of 13-year-old Philip Shumway. One ordinary summer afternoon, Ethan, Philip's much loved elder brother, walks away from their house and is never seen again. The Shumways--Philip, three sisters and their parents--track him separately into obsession. Philip's childhood is burned away, cauterized, by the loss, and the half-formed man whose personality coalesces is shadowed and deepened. The story has a dark,...

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