The New York Times Review – Ocean State

In “Ocean State,” O’Nan is subverting the thriller, borrowing its momentum to propel this bracing, chilling novel. Whereas thrillers tend to use murders as a prurient jumping-off point, the entryway to the reader’s pleasure — that chance to play Columbo or Kinsey Millhone in our heads — O’Nan takes his time, humanizing this story to make the hole where the victim was suitably substantial.

Mary Pols, The New York Times, “A Thriller Wrapped in a Story of Sisters and First Love”

Starred Review of Ocean State – Publishers Weekly!

There’s no mystery about what happens in this beautifully rendered and heartbreaking story from O’Nan (West of Sunset). In the opening pages, teenager Angel Oliviera murders another teen, Birdy Alves. O’Nan explores what led up to the killing and paints an intimate canvas of a small Rhode Island town in 2009. Women, teenage and adult, are the focal points and the narrators: Angel’s observant younger sister, Marie, sets the stage, and Birdy, Angel, and Angel’s mother, Carol, tell the story through a series of flashbacks and internal monologues. Birdy is dating Hector, but she’s in a clandestine relationship with Angel’s boyfriend. Angel frets about her mother’s desperate attempts to find love. Carol wants a better life for her daughters, but senses it’s “beyond her control” (the 2009 setting underscores the economic fragility). Social media serves as the ugly catalyst for the action that slowly, inexorably escalates. O’Nan evokes the feverish excitement of young love (“She only means to kiss him goodbye but they don’t know how to stop”) and the truly destructive force of jealousy. This isn’t a crime novel; it’s a Shakespearean tragedy told in spare, poetic, insightful prose. Agent: David Gernert, Gernert Co. (Mar.)

Publishers Weekly (https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-8021-5927-4)