SEA CREATURES

Susanna Daniel

When Georgia Quillian returns to her hometown of Miami, her family in tow, she's hoping for a fresh start. They've left Illinois trailing scandal in their wake, fallout from her husband's severe sleep disorder. For months, their three-year-old son, Frankie, has refused to speak a word.

On a whim, Georgia takes a job as an errand runner for a reclusive artist, and suddenly the future offers new possibilities: time spent with her intense but kind employer might, it seems, help Frankie find the courage to speak—and help Georgia reconcile the woman she was with the woman she has become.

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When Georgia Quillian returns to her hometown of Miami, her family in tow, she's hoping for a fresh start. They've left Illinois trailing scandal in their wake, fallout from her husband's severe sleep disorder. For months, their three-year-old son, Frankie, has refused to speak a word.

On a whim, Georgia takes a job as an errand runner for a reclusive artist, and suddenly the future offers new possibilities: time spent with her intense but kind employer might, it seems, help Frankie find the courage to speak—and help Georgia reconcile the woman she was with the woman she has become. But late that summer, as a hurricane bears down on South Florida, she must face the fact that her decisions may have put her only child in danger.

A gorgeous story that “satisfies on every level” (Amazon Best Book of the Month citation), Sea Creatures is a mesmerizing exploration of the high stakes of marriage and parenthood.

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  • Harper Perennial
  • Paperback
  • September 2014
  • 336 Pages
  • 9780062219619

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About Susanna Daniel

Susanna Daniel was born and raised in Miami, Florida. Her first novel, Stiltsville, was awarded the PEN/Bingham prize for debut fiction. She is a graduate of Columbia University and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and lives in Madison, Wisconsin.

Praise

“Don’t confuse the waterfront setting with light beach reading; this is substantive domestic drama…readers interested in families coping with disabilities will find Frankie particularly compelling as he navigates changing relationships and obstacles.”—Library Journal

Daniel returns to Stiltsville’s South Florida in a second novel filled with domestic upheaval, difficult choices, and far-reaching consequences….Daniel’s verdant descriptions of salt and sea continue to shine, as does her portrayal of a mother struggling to protect her son.”—Publishers Weekly

A captivating, haunting novel about the complexities of the human heart and its attachments, terrain as slippery and beautiful and disaster prone as Daniel’s South Florida.”—Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone

“There’s a charmer at the heart of Sea Creatures….Almost like an action-filled, emotional memoir….Gripping.”—Associated Press

Discussion Questions

At the book's opening, Georgia remarks, “It seems to me that what worries us most . . . is least likely to happen, while what is most likely is some unimagined event, and how do we prepare for that?” How would you answer this question?

Talk about Georgia and Graham's marriage. Are they happy? Could they ever be happy? Was it fair of her to have a child with him? While they are on vacation by themselves, Georgia calls Graham reckless. Is he?

Consider the men in Georgia's life: Graham, Charlie, Frankie, and her father. Each has distinctive characteristics and limitations. How do these aspects of their characters influence Georgia and her relationships with them.

What draws Georgia to Charlie? Might events have turned out differently if she'd never met him or would her marriage to Graham have changed anyway?

How would you cope with a child like Frankie? Is Georgia doing the right thing by using sign language? Compare Frankie's interaction with Charlie and with Graham. Why won't Graham sign with his son?

When Georgia meets Dr. Sonia, her new pediatrician, she tells her that she spends every waking minute with Frankie, and the doctor asks her why. Were you surprised at this question? Is a hovering parent necessarily a good parent?

What impact does receiving Charlie's mermaid sketch have on Georgia? Were they in love? Could anything have worked out between them?

In thinking back over the events involving Graham and Frankie's accident, Georgia asks, “Did I betray my own son?” What do you think? Could Frankie's accident have been prevented? What about Graham — was his fate choice or an accident?

Were you satisfied by the ending? Did it all work out the way it should have? Could it have been any different? 

What is the significance of the title?