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The Museum of Extraordinary Things

As with all of Alice Hoffman’s books, “The Museum of Extraordinary Things” includes strange characters in unusual circumstances who must use theIr powers to overcome adversity and find themselves. Hoffman weaves a Grimm-like tale with an evil villain and an unlikely hero and heroine, who are destined to meet. If you can suspend belief, the story will carry you through a gruesome mystery set in Coney Island at the turn of the twentieth century.

Ezekiel, a Jewish boy who changes his name to Eddie, and Coralee, born with webbed fingers, follow singular paths until late in the book, when the body of a dead girl draws them together. Both have unusual talents – Eddie can find missing bodies, and Coralee can hold her breath underwater long enough to pass for a mermaid in New York’s Hudson River – a talent her abusive father hopes to turn into a profit.

As I travel through California, I’ve come to a stop with fewer distractions at Asilomar campgrounds, and finally have finished my traveling library book.
If you are a fan of Hoffman’s facility for turning the ordinary into the other worldly, with her asides of historical drama, you will enjoy the story. But this book is not for everyone.

Rather than describe the many twists, I’m directing you to Katherine Howe’s well- written review in the New York Times – “Girlfish.”

Howe clearly outlines the story, and offers a note of caution: Hoffman’s melodrama does get a little convoluted. The story digresses many times with the main characters’ history as well as Hoffman’s views and diversionary soliloquies. I skipped some of the rambling, and wondered why Hoffman did not end after the dramatic fire and rescue scene…
yet, I liked this book – it carried me away…

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6 thoughts on “The Museum of Extraordinary Things

  1. My one complaint with some of Hoffman’s books (not all) is the unbelievable melodrama. Thanks for the warning 🙂 I might still read it, someday.

  2. I love Asilomar – what a wonderful trip you’re having! Sorry we couldn’t get together this time, but I’m looking forward to seeing you in November.

  3. Reading Alice Hoffman’s book now. Hope you are enjoying your trip. I lived in san Luis obispo for ten years and can visualize your travels 🙂

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