I thought I wasn’t going to finish another book in 2017, but Manhattan Beach sucked me in and I couldn’t put it down, staying up late last night to finish. It’s the story of a girl growing up in Brooklyn in the 1930s and then her story as she becomes a diver in the Brooklyn Naval Yard during World War II. Anna and her story are what sucked me in. She is stubborn, adventurous, and daring for the era in which she lives.
While Anna is the focus, her father’s story is a huge part of the novel as well. And I really enjoyed the way Jennifer Egan wove the stories together; moving from Anna’s story, to her father’s, to the underworld in which her father worked. The look into the Brooklyn Naval Yard at that time is interesting as well, a look at what the war was like here in the US, far from the fighting. Men who were desperate to serve, but for one reason or another weren’t able to be in the military. Women who worked in what were formerly men’s roles and enjoyed it, flourished, found some purpose. And the way in which the nightclubs were a refuge of sorts for all of them.
It isn’t a perfect picture of course, since people are far from perfect, and Anna has her flaws, but her daring to find out not only what happened in her family, but also to push herself to do something she loves that isn’t traditionally a woman’s job, drew me in. And I’ll admit it, I’m a sucker for anything set in and around World War II, something about it intrigues me and makes me wonder.