Summer Reading Club Features Remarkably Bright Creatures


A remarkably popular novel, Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt is the topic at the Bryant Library’s Summer Reading Club program, one to be held on Tuesday, Aug. 29 from 1 to 2 p.m.

Shelby Van Pelt.
(Photos courtesy of Ecco Press)

How popular is the novel? On, it has no less than 37,452 ratings, with the vast majority of reviewers giving the novel a positive response.
The publisher, Ecco, describes the novel thusly:
“For fans of A Man Called Ove, a charming, witty, and compulsively readable exploration of friendship, reckoning, and hope that traces a widow’s unlikely connection with a giant Pacific octopus. After Tova Sullivan’s husband died, she began working the night shift at the Sowell Bay Aquarium, mopping floors and tidying up. Keeping busy has always helped her cope, which she’s been doing since her eighteen-year-old son, Erik, mysteriously vanished on a boat in Puget Sound over thirty years ago. Tova becomes acquainted with curmudgeonly Marcellus, a giant Pacific octopus living at the aquarium. Marcellus knows more than anyone can imagine but wouldn’t dream of lifting one of his eight arms for his human captors—until he forms a remarkable friendship with Tova. Ever the detective, Marcellus deduces what happened the night Tova’s son disappeared. And now Marcellus must use every trick his old invertebrate body can muster to unearth the truth for her before it’s too late. Shelby Van Pelt’s debut novel is a gentle reminder that sometimes taking a hard look at the past can help uncover a future that once felt impossible,” it concludes.
There have been both regular and online superlatives.
“Remarkably Bright Creatures [is] an ultimately feel-good but deceptively sensitive debut about what it feels like to have love taken from you, only to find it again in the most unexpected places. . . . Memorable and tender,” wrote a reviewer in The Washington Post.
“A debut novel about a woman who befriends an octopus is a charming, warmhearted read,” added the Kirkus Reviews.
“A unique and luminous book,” declared Booklist.
And then, there are the mountains of online reviews.
“I loved this book by the end of the first chapter,” wrote a senior citizen reviewer from the United States. “As a senior myself, I loved Tova’s character. Some of the struggles seemed very familiar. I have had a group of knit-whits myself. Her work at the aquarium, and her relationship with Marcellus was a fun voyage to be part of. The story of Erik’s death was tragic, but the rest of the story gave me the happy ending I look forward to. I started to guess the ending early on, and maybe it was not “real life”, maybe too neat and sweet, but I loved it!”
From overseas, an Australian reviewer claimed, “This is one of my favorite novels so far this year,” adding, “This was just so touching. I loved the way the different story lines come together and the writing was masterful. What a fabulous debut.”
From India, a reviewer exclaimed, “My heart is full!” adding, “Finding happiness when you were not even looking for it, this book is so heartwarming. The characters are so lovable! I wanted to live in Sowell bay and know these characters personally!”
Also from Australia, “Marcellus” writes: “For fans of the My Octopus Teacher documentary, you’ll definitely want to give this book a read. We have three perspectives, and one of them is an octopus with an adventurous streak. Marcellus the octopus has my heart and makes the list for one of my favorite lovable characters of all time (next to a certain someone in Project Hail Mary).”
There are many spaces left for this discussion. Refreshments will be served. The library is at 2 Paper Mill Rd. Call 516-747-8282.

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