Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan [in Library Journal]
An 11-year-old’s daring 1934 dip at Brooklyn’s Manhattan Beach introduces the tautly twisted threads of Jennifer Egan’s first novel since 2011’s Pulitzer Prize-winning A Visit from the Goon Squad. This tripart historical hybrid – part family saga, part noirish mystery, part testimony to women’s war-fueled empowerment – features Heather Lind as adventurous tween Anna Kerrigan; Norbert Leo Butz as Anna’s father, Eddie; and Vincent Piazza as Eddie’s boss Dexter Styles. Lind seamlessly matures into bold, independent Anna who becomes the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s first female scuba diver. Butz voices Eddie, initially a yes-man to Styles, who disappears from his family but not from the narrative; Butz exhibits the greatest range, showcasing his facility with accents to create additional global characters. Piazza, too, convincingly embodies a roster of lesser characters in addition to Styles, who is both socialite and gangster.
Aural direction takes a less-than-effective turn when dialogue between major characters is obviously spliced together – for example, in an especially intimate scene, Anna and Dexter sound more like they’re conversing from separate tunnels than in the same space.
Verdict: Despite occasional production glitches, the separate strengths of the narrating trio make this Beach a worthwhile destination.