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After Tova Sullivan’s husband died, she began working the night shift at the Sowell Bay Aquarium, mopping floors and tidying up. Keeping busy had always helped her cope, which she had been doing since her 18-year-old son, Erik, mysteriously vanished on a boat in the Puget Sound over 30 years earlier.
As she works, Tova becomes acquainted with curmudgeonly Marcellus, a giant Pacific octopus living at the aquarium. Marcellus knows more than anyone can imagine, but wouldn’t dream of lifting one of his eight tentacles for his human captors – until he forms an unlikely friendship with Tova.
Ever the detective, Marcellus deduces what happened the night Tova’s son disappeared. As his affection for Tova grows, Marcellus must use every trick his old, invertebrate body can muster to unearth the truth for her before it’s too late.
Charming, compulsively readable, and full of wit, Shelby Van Pelt’s debut novel is a beautiful exploration of friendship, reckoning and hope – a reminder that sometimes taking a hard look at the past can help uncover a future that once felt impossible.
Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Shelby Van Pelt is now missing the mountains in the Chicago area with her husband and two children.
1. Do you have a favorite character and what was most appealing about that character?
2. With which character do you most identify?
3. Halfway through the book, Marcellus observes the former cleaner (Tova) and her new replacement "walk alike." Did this seem random to you or did you sense a new role for Cameron in the story?
4. Superior-thinking Marcellus had many interesting observations and quotes. Do you recall a favorite?
5. If Marcellus had not been the narrator, who would you choose to narrate the story?