Sea Creatures is a Florida novel — the kind that captures the hope and despair of a place where mother nature is always threatening to unleash her wrath. Georgia and Graham both suffer from sleep disorders and their marriage is plagued by this unrest. They have a young son, Frankie, who refuses to speak, and in Miami, they hope they can get a fresh start. They buy a houseboat, which they dock in the canal behind the home Georgia's father shares with his new wife, Lidia. Instead of growing together, the couple is growing further apart. Graham is not the father Georgia hoped he would be and his sleep episodes are an increasing source of tension. Georgia also wants more from Graham as a woman though she never really articulates her desires, choosing, instead, to support Graham’s independence, trying not to change the man. Or, she is, in her own way, letting him go as she reaches for someone else — a loner who lives in a house on stilts in the middle of the ocean.
This novel is composed of elegant sentences and even more elegant ideas. Daniel captures the richness of place — the humidity and heat of Florida, the watery canals threaded throughout Miami, the taste of salt lingering in the air, the bougainvillea flowering. One of my favorite things about Daniel’s writing, and this truly shines in Sea Creatures, is how she tells a story completely. This is not to say the reader will get everything they want but we are not left with nagging questions. Because she has committed to telling a story, Daniel tells the story. This sense of completeness becomes almost unbearable in Sea Creatures but as a whole, the novel is so masterful, the burden becomes light.
Recommended for: Anyone who is willing to see how it all ends and is willing to see people as they really are, not as how we hope them to be.
—Roxane Gay, BuzzFeed contributor