A Seahorse Year

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Best Books of 2004, San Francisco Chronicle
Favorite Books of 2004, Newsday
Winner, Lambda Literary Award
Winner, Ferro-Grumley Award

In Stacey D’Erasmo’s acclaimed second novel, a quintessentially modern family is ultimately transformed by the emerging breakdown of their teenaged son, Christopher. When he disappears from his San Francisco home, his extended family comes together in a frantic search. But Christopher is in much more trouble than they know, and their attempts to support him and to save him will challenge their assumptions about themselves and one another.


In the tradition of writers like Carol Shields and A.S. Byatt…mastery of intimate detail. As the novel unfolds, Nan, Hal and Marina are all so fully and complicatedly present that it is impossible not to become engrossed in their lives…D’Erasmo is one of those rare writers who can write about sex in a way that does justice to both the physical and the psychological…Like Byatt and Shields, D’Erasmo is too interested in conveying the texture of lived experience to reach a neat conclusion….What is abundantly clear throughout is D’Erasmo’s talent and intelligence. A Seahorse Year succeeds in being both deeply satisfying and quietly subversive.
–Margot Livesey, New York Times Book Review

D’Erasmo’s quiet, penetrating second novel. . .follows a San Francisco family coping with a. . .son’s mental illness. . .with beauty and insight. As D’Erasmo shifts between different points of view—distinct, but united by her lush prose—she paints a portrait of illness, but also of growth and change.
Publishers Weekly

Fluent in the subtlest of psychological states and gloriously visual in her resonant descriptions of everything from table settings to a redwood forest, D’Erasmo composes scenes of both high drama and grinding everydayness to form a supple yet piercing novel of obdurate individuality, inescapable aberration, and oceanic love.
Booklist (starred review)

[A] quietly effective novel about family strife….This book demands commitment and ends up compelling commitment because of Stacey D’Erasmo’s intense insights into her characters and their deep affection for each other and for life.
–Alan Cheuse, National Public Radio

D’Erasmo offers penetrating insight into the subtle complexities and strains of intimate relationships—lovers, spouses, parents, children. She writes with a graceful, sometimes devastating directness, in clear, crisp phrases lined with subtle lyricism. Her prose is artfully laced with telling details that brilliantly illumine characters’ motives and moods….Ultimately, A Seahorse Year is about the inevitable connections we make as human beings with those around us and how those connections make us whole and keep us tethered, despite the inevitable frayed edges.
Boston Globe

It’s a well-nigh impossible task the author sets herself when she writes in more than one point of view. D’Erasmo…does all this, and in spades. Each character, and each voice, seems perfectly necessary. She makes you feel that this is the most economic way to tell this sad, gorgeous story….In this story of mad Christopher and his highly imperfect family, D’Erasmo surprises grace in its weirdest hideouts.

What happens to a family when it falls apart? This is the complicated question Stacey D’Erasmo tackles in her second novel, A Seahorse Year, and her psychologically complex and lyrical exploration of the surrounding concerns yields (thankfully) no easy answers….Throughout, the author is skillfully unobtrusive; the result is a wedge of existence that suggests a story continuing outside the margins of the novel.
San Francisco Chronicle

Alternating perspectives and controlled, nuanced writing bring depth and compassion to each character, illuminating their flaws and contradictions to full effect…the sympathetically drawn characters and brilliant moments in her writing make D’Erasmo an author to watch.
Library Journal

You could read Stacey D’Erasmo for the subtlety of her insights or the beauty of her language or for her tumbling, shifting arrangements of plot and characters….Or you could just open A Seahorse Year and be mesmerized.
The Advocate

A Los Angeles Times Book Review “Discovery.” “[Christopher] is the pure thing at the book’s heart, the human sacrifice, the true visionary.” 

D’Erasmo…convincingly gets inside the troubled mind of the teenaged boy and makes the horrors of his mental illness strangely lyrical….The result is at once funny and terrifying.
Washington Post Book World

Unflinching prose that’s both descriptive and soulful.
Time Out New York

How far will one go in pursuit of love? In A Seahorse Year…intimacies unfold, deepen, and disintegrate within newly charted parameters….impeccably honed scenes. A Seahorse Year is a stunning achievement.

A natural ventriloquist, D’Erasmo deftly filters this increasingly suspenseful story through [the] characters…D’Erasmo shows us that though the nuclear family may have gone the way of the Cold War, formidable powers of destruction still radiate from the core of every kinship.

After turning a page or two of A Seahorse Year, you’ll know you’re into something special. Stacey D’Erasmo creates lives and worlds so intricate, vital, and confounding, you may feel like you’re holding on to real life between two covers.

Stacey D’Erasmo, in her rich, complex new novel, uses the elements to illuminate characters driven by Love and Strife, desiring both intimacy and escape….D’Erasmo retains her earlier strengths—the clear grace of her prose and a gift for creating complex, believable characters—while adding a strong narrative drive….Like Michael Cunningham in The Hours, or Margaret Drabble in The Needle’s Eye (literary cousins to A Seahorse Year), D’Erasmo uses her own sense of pattern to contain, reflect, and make bearable a set of painful and truthful human stories.
The Believer

D’Erasmo’s characters evoke a poignant response in this amplified, beautifully narrated exploration of family trauma.
The Village Voice

The events of this novel rock the reader as much as they do the characters, and D’Erasmo’s commanding, heartfelt language makes the journey all the more captivating.
Gay City News

Much too good to keep to yourself—it should be passed on to a friend (of any gender or persuasion) to gossip about afterwards.
Women’s Review of Books

A Seahorse Year is really a love story. It’s a book about how different kinds of love…can intertwine, bringing joy and also pain….It’s hard to come away from A Seahorse Year without feeling overwhelmed by emotion—hope, sadness, joy.
Philadelphia Weekly

D’Erasmo…exhibits an uncanny gift for choosing just the right word, the right image…She writes with a quiet grace…That this is only D’Erasmo’s second novel makes it all the more impressive how skillfully she’s structured the plot and how confidently she renders Christopher’s disjointed thoughts with tenderness and beauty.

Throughout A Seahorse Year, D’Erasmo paints the everyday moments of family life with painterly precision and care.
The Boston Phoenix