Reviews

Library Journal
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In coastal Vigil Harbor, where the National Book Award-winning Glass acts as escort, yacht clubbers are divorcing in droves, high-profile architect Austin Kepner wants to build homes strong enough to withstand the increasingly violent storms resulting from climate change, and Austin's stepson returns home from the big city after having managed to avoid another terrorist attack. Then two strangers—a charming traveler and a mysterious widow—drop in to disrupt life further.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

An insular Massachusetts coastal town finds the worlds woes at its doorstep.Judging by references scattered through the opening chapters with Glass usual deftness, the time is about 10 years after the pandemic first hit. Climate change has become more devastating, political polarization is worse than ever, and terrorist attacks have multiplied. As the story progresses via no less than eight narrators, each sharply individualized, we are reminded that eventually the bizarre becomes normal. A monster storm three years ago blew down multiple buildings and docks in Vigil Harbor, but a local tycoon wants to build his post-divorce mansion on the cliffside anyway. His is one of a rash of marital splits that are the talk of the town, but no one bats an eyelash when a new couple formed from the remains of two divorces runs off to a survivalist communeone of those psycho wilderness camps, as college dropout Brecht puts it. Hes a member of Generation NL (out loud: nil), young adults with no expectations of a livable future. Brecht was at NYU the year of the Union Square attack, having lost his father when he was 8 to the first coronavirus wave. He returns to Vigil Harbor and goes to work for Celestino, the foreign-born landscaper who works on Brechts stepfather Austins fancy architecture projects. Even though hes married to a U.S. citizen, Celestino is in danger; immigrants are now totally barred, visa raids ongoing. Theres lots more plot to come. The alleged journalist in town doing a profile of Austin is in fact pursuing him to avenge the mysterious woman they both loved and lost. An old friend turns up looking for Celestino, who is emphatically not happy to see him. We slowly learn theres more to Brechts inertia than was apparent at first. The two big plot twists are more predictable than they should be, but Glass sharply drawn portraits of people coping as best they can with a world in crisis will convince most readers to go along happily for the ride.Provocative themes, strong characterizations, and propulsive storytelling combine for another great read from Glass. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

In finely detailed yet translucent descriptions of Vigil Harbor, an old coastal Massachusetts town, Glass summons a near-future ravaged by environmental devastation and “political extremes.” Fledgling poet Brecht, the first narrator in this gracefully polyphonic novel, has left college in New York City and returned home after a deadly bombing. Petra, having lost her wife and her bearings, infiltrates Vigil Harbor's cocoon, seeking revenge against prominent architect Austin for the harm she believes he did long ago to her first love, Issa, an artist whose identification with the endangered creatures of the sea was strange and alarming. Mike, a scientist working for an ocean preservation group, and flinty former English teacher Margo regroup after being betrayed by their spouses. Landscaper Celestino is taken aback when Ernesto appears, claiming to be a climate scientist. Glass circles among her complex, conflicted characters, including two from her earlier novel, The Widower’s Tale (2010), as violence threatens this once insulated enclave. A novelist of fluid compassion adept at creating plots anchored in the ordinary but driven into disaster, Glass adds a drop of mythology to the whirl of this intricately suspenseful story. With sorrow and humor, beauty and fury rendered in prose as exquisitely nuanced and mutable as the seacoast setting, Glass dramatizes the psychic toll of climate change.


Publishers Weekly
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National Book Award winner Glass (A House Among the Trees) adds mystery and adventure to an engrossing near-future story of the perils of climate change. Covid-19 is in the rearview, but things are far from the old normal. Serial terrorist bombings target New York City’s Union Square, Cambridge’s Harvard Yard, and other places throughout the U.S. as a catastrophic tsunami threatens the Northeast. Austin Kepner, a renowned architect of houses for clients seeking “postmarital solitude,” welcomes his stepson, Brecht, back to their small “almost island” Massachusetts fishing town after he drops out of college. There, Brecht discovers “weird weather, weird politics, and weird relationships.” The last involves strangers who show up, among them Petra Coyle, who claims to be a journalist commissioned to do a documentary on Austin; Ernesto Soltera, a purported old friend of a local landscaper; and Issa, an artist’s model with no navel and “pearly skin,” who the locals believe is a selkie, a creature from Celtic myth that’s half-person, half-seal. As the story unfolds, Glass skillfully reveals Issa’s connections to Petra and Austin, and a heart-pounding hostage episode ratchets up the tension as multiple secret identities and several romantic triangles are exposed, leading to a satisfying conclusion. Both nightmarish and enjoyable, this will have readers hooked for the long haul. (May)


Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

The National Book Award-winning Glass (I See a House Among the Trees) reveals the state of the world using one small coastal community, Vigil Harbor, MA, ten years in the future. College drop-out Brecht, who says he is generation NL (No Life), moves home to recuperate after an activist-set bomb blast in New York City killed a friend. His stepfather, Austin, has a successful architectural practice designing and building homes to withstand the fury of stronger coastal storms. Petra pretends to be a journalist as she dogs Austin, trying to get him to explain his insensitive breakup with her artist friend Issa, a woman who imagines she was a creature from the sea. Margo, an ex-English teacher with an attitude, finds an unlikely friendship with Mike because his wife ran off with her husband. Mike doesn't dwell on his new-found bachelor status, because, as a marine biologist, he's more concerned about the dire effects of climate change and disappearing ocean species. Everyday life comes to a halt when climate activists bent on violence set off a bomb on the Harvard campus and escape to nearby Vigil Harbor. The bar is going up on surviving what is to come. VERDICT Deftly weaving together eight intersecting stories, Glass offers fiction steeped in current events that her loyal followers will appreciate.—Donna Bettencourt


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

An insular Massachusetts coastal town finds the world’s woes at its doorstep. Judging by references scattered through the opening chapters with Glass’ usual deftness, the time is about 10 years after the pandemic first hit. Climate change has become more devastating, political polarization is worse than ever, and terrorist attacks have multiplied. As the story progresses via no less than eight narrators, each sharply individualized, we are reminded that eventually the bizarre becomes normal. A monster storm three years ago blew down multiple buildings and docks in Vigil Harbor, but a local tycoon wants to build his post-divorce mansion on the cliffside anyway. His is one of a rash of marital splits that are the talk of the town, but no one bats an eyelash when a new couple formed from the remains of two divorces runs off to a survivalist commune—“one of those psycho wilderness camps,” as college dropout Brecht puts it. He’s a member of “Generation NL (out loud: nil),” young adults with no expectations of a livable future. Brecht was at NYU “the year of the Union Square attack,” having lost his father when he was 8 to the first coronavirus wave. He returns to Vigil Harbor and goes to work for Celestino, the foreign-born landscaper who works on Brecht’s stepfather Austin’s fancy architecture projects. Even though he’s married to a U.S. citizen, Celestino is in danger; immigrants are now totally barred, “visa raids” ongoing. There’s lots more plot to come. The alleged journalist in town doing a profile of Austin is in fact pursuing him to avenge the mysterious woman they both loved and lost. An “old friend” turns up looking for Celestino, who is emphatically not happy to see him. We slowly learn there’s more to Brecht’s inertia than was apparent at first. The two big plot twists are more predictable than they should be, but Glass’ sharply drawn portraits of people coping as best they can with a world in crisis will convince most readers to go along happily for the ride. Provocative themes, strong characterizations, and propulsive storytelling combine for another great read from Glass. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

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