The main character in Ivy Pochoda's amazing book, Visitation Street
, is not human. It is, instead, a place the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. A place that is home to fifteen-year-old Valerie Marino; twenty-something music teacher Jonathon Sprouse; nineteen-year-old Cree James, a person of interest in the disappearance of young June Giatto; local bodega owner, Fadi; and finally to an elusive neighborhood tagger* known as RD or RunDown. These characters are shaped by Red Hook, a part-gentrified (and part-not) waterfront neighborhood named for its red soil and its point of land that projects into the river.
Pochoda describes it best. "Red Hook is a mile-long spit stranded at the southern point of Brooklyn where the East River opens into the bay." Coffey Park, she writes, "splits the 'front' with its decaying waterfront from the fortress of housing...
Beyond the Book
In Visitation Street
Ivy Pochoda puts us smack in the middle of a place like few authors can.
"Music from Coffey Park is rolling down Visitation Street, signaling the kickoff of Old Timers Day on the backside of the neighborhood. Overnight, families from the projects have staked out plots of the park, jockeying to get prime real estate for their barbecues ... Men carrying foil trays of macaroni salad and slaw search out their families' tables. Kids chase one another between the grills. Grandmothers parade their visiting grandchildren."
It is no...