Everything Under

Everything Under

A Novel

Book - 2018
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Gretel, a lexicographer by trade, grew up on a houseboat with her mother, wandering the canals of Oxford and speaking a private language of their own invention. Her mother disappeared when Gretel was a teen, abandoning her to foster care, and Gretel has tried to move on, spending her days updating dictionary entries. When her mother phones, Gretel will have to recover buried memories of her final, fateful winter on the canals. A runaway boy had found community and shelter with them, and all three were haunted by their past and stalked by an ominous creature lurking in the canal that she called the bonak. And now that she's searching for her mother, she'll have to face it.
Publisher: Minneapolis, Minnesota : Graywolf Press, [2018]
Copyright Date: ©2018
ISBN: 9781555978266
1555978266
Branch Call Number: Fic John
Characteristics: 264 pages ; 21 cm

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knitsewrainbow May 20, 2019

Johnson writes a compelling story full of mystery and intrigue, but as the tale unravels beware the heartbreaking, complex, and ultimately broken strands that weave this family together.

s
sgcf
May 13, 2019

I was in awe of the writing skills of 27 year old Johnson, youngest ever to be short listed for the Man Booker Prize. The story felt a bit eerie, occasionally confusing, but always an enthralling page-turner as the protagonist finds the mother who abandoned her at age 16 and unwinds the convoluted strands of those intervening years. Johnson deals with the theme of fate, loosely shadowing the Oedipus myth, as well as themes of entangled memories of family and home. Foreboding, yet mesmerizing. A favourite quote:
”Sometimes I wonder if all our choices are remnants of all the choices we made before. As if decisions were shards from the bombs of our previous actions.”

k
KirstenES
Feb 28, 2019

Alternately removed, otherworldly and mysterious, this Booker-shortlisted first (!) novel uses its settings as central characters, but the characters themselves, shifting through identities and communities, are the most compelling part. The author creates empathetic portraits of people facing very difficult realities, and does it without ever being saccharine or manipulative. Johnson addresses issues of parenting, gender, sexuality, family and more, while telling a story that kept me turning pages and staying up late to find out what would happen next.

m
MaryJoSchifsky
Jan 18, 2019

Dark tale of young woman, her mother and water. Didn't complete.

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