The Isle of Youth

Laura Van Den Berg. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $14 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-0-374-17723-2
If ever there was a writer going places, it’s Laura Van Den Berg, who follows up her debut collection, What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us, with the ambitious, modular The Isle of Youth, whose seven stories are arranged along the themes of family secrets with noirish intrigue. “I Looked for You, I Called Your Name” concerns a couple’s disastrous vacation in South America, where signs and portents stand in for the growing distance between them. These auguries are more literalized in “Acrobat,” where another wife, jilted in Paris, takes up with the titular troupe of performers. The private detective sisters of “Opa-Locka” embroil themselves in other people’s business, only to be dragged back into their father’s criminal past. Meanwhile, the sisters in the book’s title story switch identities and get the full Chandler treatment, trailed by sinister town cars and mystery men. And there’s always the missing family member that can’t be completely grasped. In “The Greatest Escape,” it’s a young girl’s magician father, protected by her mother’s lies; in “Antarctica,” it’s an estranged brother, incinerated in an accident on the Antarctic Peninsula, leaving his sister alone in the frozen wastes with the secret that could have saved him. The Isle of Youth can seem a similarly immutable landscape, but Van Den Berg’s repetitions never annoy; they enchant. (Nov. 5)
Reviewed on: 07/15/2013
Release date: 11/05/2013
Show other formats
Open Ebook - 256 pages - 978-0-374-71061-3
Hardcover - 257 pages - 978-1-907970-68-9
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Email Address


Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.