Ocean State (Hardcover)

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Ocean State By Stewart O'Nan Cover Image
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Staff Reviews

Stewart O’Nan writes novels that are can’t-look-away captivating, full of gorgeous prose, and just unrelentingly real. In Ocean State, teenage love goes terribly wrong in a little-to-lose, blue collar town on the East Coast. O’Nan gets so close to these people they feel like your family as he zooms in on the overlooked moments that nudge a young woman along from desperately in love to just plain desperate.

— Chris Lee

Two working class families on the Rhode Island shoreline are torn apart by a high school love triangle - two young women in love with a manipulative and entitled wannabe musician. O’Nan tells us at once about the tragedy that’s about to unfold, but the beauty of this novel is in graceful way that it approaches the inevitable, using several family members to bring the story to life. Wrenchingly beautiful.

— Daniel Goldin


Set in a working-class town on the Rhode Island coast, O'Nan's latest is a crushing, beautifully written, and profoundly compelling novel about sisters, mothers, and daughters, and the terrible things love makes us do.

In the first line of Ocean State, we learn that a high school student was murdered, and we find out who did it. The story that unfolds from there with incredible momentum is thus one of the build-up to and fall-out from the murder, told through the alternating perspectives of the four women at its heart. Angel, the murderer, Carol, her mother, and Birdy, the victim, all come alive on the page as they converge in a climax both tragic and inevitable. Watching over it all is the retrospective testimony of Angel's younger sister Marie, who reflects on that doomed autumn of 2009 with all the wisdom of hindsight.

Angel and Birdy love the same teenage boy, frantically and single mindedly, and are compelled by the intensity of their feelings to extremes neither could have anticipated. O'Nan's expert hand paints a fully realized portrait of these women, but also weaves a compelling and heartbreaking story of working-class life in Ashaway, Rhode Island. Propulsive, moving, and deeply rendered, Ocean State is a masterful novel by one of our greatest storytellers.

About the Author

Stewart O'Nan is the author of numerous books, including Wish You Were Here, Everyday People, In the Walled City, The Speed Queen, and Emily, Alone. His 2007 novel, Last Night at the Lobster, was a national bestseller and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. He was born and raised in Pittsburgh, where he lives with his family.

Product Details
ISBN: 9780802159274
ISBN-10: 0802159273
Publisher: Grove Press
Publication Date: March 15th, 2022
Pages: 240
Language: English