The Book of Speculation

What a wonderfully surprising novel.  The Book of Speculation revolves around the main character, Simon.  Simon is a researcher in a local library in a small town on the Long Island Sound.  Lack of funding is threatening Simon’s job, and to top off his problems, his old coastal home is in danger of falling into the ocean because of erosion and a lack of upkeep.   Simon is essentially alone.  His mom tragically and intentionally drowned, and his dad later died of a broken heart.  His sister, Enola, is off traveling with a carnival as a tarot card reader and occasional mermaid.  As his world is crumbling, he receives a very old book from an unknown book collector.  The attached note says that the book contains information about Simon’s family. Being a researcher, Simon lets his curiosity take over, even if it means delaying finding a job and fixing his house.  The information in the book has such a pull on him that he can’t resist the challenge of researching his family history. 

The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler

As Simon begins researching his family, he begins uncovering one dark secret after another.  His neighbor isn’t the guy Simon thought he was.  There may be an underlying reason for why his dad never repaired his house which is causing it to crumble more and more each day.  And the biggest secret of all is that Simon believes that his family is cursed.  Simon is now racing to find a way to to break the curse and save his sister’s life.

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The novel goes back and forth telling Simon’s story and the story of his ancestors.  This switching of time periods allows the reader to slowly piece together the story as Simon begins connecting his life to the mysterious book and the curse that is plaguing his family.  When reading one of these back and forth stories, I usually prefer one story line over the other, but with this book, I completely enjoyed each story line and enjoyed switching back and forth to both.  The historical backdrop of the novel was so engrossing: the traveling circus with it’s many acts and characters always looking for a profit, but becoming an unexpected family unit as they traveled from city to city in the 1800’s.  The one thing that I was slightly disappointed in was that I was able to guess the ending long before finishing the book.  There were enough hints throughout the book that gave me a good idea of the outcome, but there were a few surprises that made up for this in the end.  I would definitely recommend this book to any adult and maybe older high school students.  There were a few adult themes in the book, but they were usually just mentioned briefly.

Overall a great read:  Go read it!!