Going back and forth in time, Evangeline (Evie) recalls the challenges of being raised on a lush island off the coast of California. Her mother has left Evie and her father, and her father raises Evie from the age of three. He’s a jack-of-all-trades but survives by selling a specially grown variety of marijuana. And although he provides her with adventure and a deep love of the ocean, Evie’s father doesn’t show up as a consistent adult in her life.
The book opens just before her wedding, when a storm is brewing, her fiancé is out at sea, and a dead whale beaches, which causes a pervading smell of decay across the island. Evie’s mostly absent mother suddenly shows up wanting to participate in the joy of her daughter’s wedding. In flashbacks and musings, Evie confronts her abandonment, guilt, anger and ultimately her love for all creatures – including her parents, her husband, her best friend, and her best friend’s child. With sporadic notes from Evie’s research on wales and sea life, this is a novel to savor while either gazing out to sea or imagining it.
Crissy Van Meter is a writer based in Los Angeles. Creatures: A Novel (Algonquin Books) is her debut novel. She teaches creative writing at The Writing Institute at Sarah Lawrence College. She is the founder of the literary project Five Quarterly and the managing editor for Nouvella Books. She serves on the board of directors for the literary non-profit Novelly. Crissy loves going to Disneyland and has been an annual passholder since she was 5. She’s been to Tokyo Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, Walt Disney World, and she plans to visit the remaining Disney parks in Hong Kong and Shanghai.