Bay's End by Edward Lorn

Bay’s End was a stone enjoyable read from the first page to the last.

No, not every page was drop-dead amazing, and I haven’t found a book yet where that phenomenon was true. It is becoming rare, though, to find a book that will keep you turning the pages without that little inner-voice saying, “this is getting old.”

Bay’s End never got old.

It was a surprisingly quick read and that owes itself in large part to Lorn’s ability with dialogue (and there is a lot of dialogue in the book), especially preteen dialogue. Initially, like a lot of readers, I found the young characters’ language a little bit, shall we say, “advanced” for their stated ages, but after a scant few pages I found that their words were on target for preteens who desperately want to be older. I’ve seen criticism of the profanity in other reviews; however, readers have to keep a few things in mind. First, every twelve year old in the world wants every other twelve year old in the world to think they’re eighteen. These kids’ language reflected that truth not so much in their use of profanity but in their misuse of it. When they’re profane, it never quite rings true--it rings of learning, or rather, yearning. They want to be older, they want to act older; they’re testing the waters. Second, these kids grew up a lot later than most of us did and none of us has a clue as to how they talk among themselves. I suspect Lorn juxtaposed the kids’ language with their childlike behavior to force the reader into viewing them as being on the cusp of maturity. Finally, puritanism is alive and well in this country, so there are going to be naysayers around who’ll give a book 1-star because a goldfish got flushed. Fuck ‘em.

Most readers will figure out where they think this novel is going soon enough. And they’ll be wrong. That is part of the surprise and delight with Bay’s End. Where you think it’s going--yeah, it’s going. But it’s going to a lot more places than you suspect. Some of those places are much less pleasant than others. Some are downright disturbing.

Along that line, I must confess I found the climactic scene of Bay’s End excessive. The imagery was graphic, it walked a bit too close to the edge for my tastes, and upon reflection I thought it bordered on being gratuitous. But it damn sure left a mark and there’s something to be said for that.

For whatever reason, I’m big on “suspension of disbelief” these days and I find myself rating novels with that in mind. Bay’s End isn’t flawless; it had a few “oh, please” moments in it that even suspension of disbelief couldn’t cure, but overall it got the job done nicely. Is it great literature? No--it was never intended to be. That’s what 5-star ratings are for.