Nov 3, 2015

Book Review: The Edge of Lost by Kristina McMorris

First Chapter, First Paragraph is hosted weekly by Bibliophile by the Sea. Share the first paragraph of your current read. Also visit Teaser Tuesdays meme hosted by Jenn.
The Edge of Lost: A Novel by Kristina McMorris, to be released November 24, 2015 by Kensington
Objective rating: 5/5
Source: advance uncorrected proof for review

First paragraph: (taken from an uncorrected proof. The final copy may differ)
Alcatraz Island October 1937
Fog encircled the island, a strangling grip, as search efforts mounted. In the moonless sky, dark clouds forged a dome over the icy currents of San Francisco Bay. 
"You two check the docks," shouted Warden Johnston, his voice muffled by rain and howling wind. "We'll take the lighthouse. The rest of you spread out." 
More people traded directives, divvying up territory. They were off-duty guards and teenage sons who called Alcatraz their home, an odd place where a maze of fencing and concrete kept families of the prison staff safe from the country's most notorious criminals.
At least in theory.  
My summary and comments: Young Shanley Keagan travels in the mid-1930s from Ireland to New York and finds himself alone after the death of his uncle on board ship. He is unofficially adopted by an Italian-American family until he is grown and can fend for himself. However, Shanley, now known as Tommy Capello, unwillingly and unwittingly becomes embroiled in a crime, trying to save his Italian brother, and finds himself jailed on the infamous Alcatraz Island in San Francisco. 

The second half of the novel details Shanley's  life on Alcatraz and life in general for other inmates as well as prison guards and their families who live on the island. Shanley's friendship with the young daughter of a prison guard and attempts to escape provide suspenseful reading toward the end of the book. 

I enjoyed the story of a young Irish immigrant and his travails as a newcomer to America. The book is well researched and gave me a good look at the hardships of immigration at that time for several ethnic groups, among them the Irish and the Italians. Life on Alcatraz, for inmates as well as the prison staff is fascinating in its detail. 

The story kept me in suspense as you root for Shanley trying to cope with prison life and then deciding to plan escape through the shark-infested and cold waters around Alcatraz, an almost impossible attempt that many had tried unsuccessfully. 

Recommendation: If you have ever wondered about Alcatraz and its history, and you like a good historical novel with a suspenseful plot and interesting characters, read this. 

What do you think of the opening paragraphs?

14 comments:

  1. I am intrigued by anything set in the SF area...and Alcatraz! What a setting....thanks for sharing. Here's mine: “ICE COLD”

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  2. I do love stories about Alcatraz! San Francisco is one of my favorite cities to visit. I would definitely keep reading. Thank you for sharing. :-)

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  3. This sounds fascinating but also sounds like it won't end well for Shanley. I'll add it to my list, though. Here's my teaser: http://wp.me/p4DMf0-10B

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    1. The book ends with the areader feeling okay. Not spoiling the ending for anyone, but just saying....

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  4. Those first paragraphs set such at atmosphere. They seem to match the cover. I'd like to read more.

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  5. The character doesn't really grab me, but Alcatraz is always fascinating, so I'm torn about this. May have to look into it more.

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  6. Sounds fascinating! I'm glad you enjoyed it but I don't think it is for me. My YA teaser this week comes from The August 5 by Jenna Helland. Happy reading!

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  7. I think this one will have to go on my to read list. I visit Alcatraz a few years ago and was fascinated with the stories I heard during the tour. Girl Who Reads

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  8. This sounds good and your high rating makes me want to try it more.

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  9. I visited Alcatraz on a trip to San Francisco long ago, and I'm fascinated by its history. This sounds like a good story with lots of historical details.
    My Tuesday post features Emma Knows All.

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  10. I am intrigued by the setting. I would keep reading.

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  11. That is a good first paragraph.

    The plot sounds like an interesting and slightly unusual mix of historical American narrative and a prison story.

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  12. I don't think that I knew that the prison guards lived on Alcatraz with their families. What must that have been like? Interesting premise for a book and I'm going to put it on my list. Thanks for sharing!

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  13. Absolutely keep reading this! I'm pinning it for the future!

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