Daily Archives: April 8, 2014

** The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman


There’s much to like in The Museum of Extraordinary Things, although I was disappointed in the overall effect. I liked the construction of the book, with two personal stories of a young woman and a young man, each told both in the present and in the memories of the actors, intertwined and yet clear enough so that reading is not a constant puzzle. I liked the singular circumstances of the young woman’s life, as she trains to swim well enough to pose as a mermaid in her father’s museum (of extraordinary things) and to pretend to be a river monster in the Hudson. I also liked the many minor and unique characters.

Alas, the rest seemed overdone and plodding. The author tries to fit both the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire and the Coney Island Dreamworld fire in the book, and the link between the two seems rather tortured. The back story of the woman is revealed in a secret diary, the very existence of which is far fetched. And the happily-ever-after ending is Disney-esque.

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