Museum of Extraordinary Things – Alice Hoffman

museum of extraordinaryCoralie was a mermaid. She had webbed hands, with which she was born, and a beautiful scaled tale, with which she was supplied. Her father was the owner of the museum on Coney Island that exhibited all manner of oddities, including a wolfman, a butterfly girl, and a sword swallower. Coralie was the star, swimming in her tank, seeming never to need air.

Eddie was a gifted photographer, fascinated by light and shadows, eking a living selling pictures to newspapers. He immigrated to New York from Russia as a boy, but renounced his Jewish heritage, shunning his father completely. His pictures of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire captured the unthinkable horror insuring that this atrocity could never be forgotten.

It is the early 1900s and these two young people, so very unalike, struggle to understand who they are. Told in alternating narratives, their lives gradually unfold and inevitably come together. Mixing fiction with fact, the book captures life in early New York and is filled with vivid characters and unforgettable scenes. This is a most enjoyable book, and is highly recommended. Marketed as an adult title, it is acceptable for mature teens.

eGalley review             Publication date  2.18.14

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