Startlingly brilliant' Spectator 'A triumph' Daily Mail 'One of America's most powerful writers' Times Literary Supplement Twelve-year-old Caitlin lives alone with her mother - a docker at the local container port - in subsidised housing next to an airport in Seattle. Each day, while she waits to be picked up after school, Caitlin visits the local aquarium to study the fish. Gazing at the creatures within the watery depths, Caitlin is transported to a shimmering universe beyond her own.
When she befriends an old man at the tanks one day, who seems as enamoured by the fish as she, Caitlin cracks open a dark family secret and propels her once-blissful relationship with her mother towards a precipice of terrifying consequence.
Gary, driven by thirty years of diverted plans, and Irene are trying to rebuild their life together. Across the water on the mainland, Irene and Gary's grown daughter, Rhoda is starting her own life. She fantasizes about the perfect wedding day, whilst her betrothed, Jim the dentist, wonders about the possibility of an altogether different future.
The year is 1985 and twenty-two-year-old Galen lives with his emotionally dependent mother in a secluded old house with a walnut orchard in a suburb of Sacramento, California. He yearns for transformation. But he's powerless to stop the manic binges that overtake him, leading him to gorge on meat and other forbidden desires, including sex.