Sixteen-year-old Elektra Kamenides was happy. She had a happy, secure life in the Mississippi college town where her father worked as a scholar on ancient Greece, and her mother, Helen, was an aspiring author. When her mother whisks Elektra and her 13-year-old sister, Thalia, out of Mississippi and away from their father, to go live on a roach-infested shack that alleges itself a houseboat in an area of California called Guadalupe Slough, Elektra is furious. Who wouldn’t be? The entire rug of her life has been pulled out from under her, and she can’t even get her father to return her calls. What is going on? Not even her sister Thalia’s endless optimism can shake Elektra, who decides she’s going to make like Odyseuss and get back to Mississippi. But like her Greek hero counterpart, the gods have other plans in store for Elektra.
Elektra’s Adventures in Tragedy peeks into the end of a marriage, a coming of age, and the strength of community. With distance, Elektra sees that the hero she made her father out to be was not necessarily the case; an emergency serves as her wakeup call to make the most of the present, and she discovers that she can survive and thrive in her new community, surrounded by her supportive neighbors. There’s good and colorful character development, including a veteran with PTSD and a Latinx family whose San Jose roots go back for generations. The cast of characters are primarily white and Latinx. There are amusing interludes at the local library, where a neighbor – and later, Elektra – takes out hundreds of books a week to keep circulation numbers strong, for the sake of keeping the library open.
I enjoyed the pace of the storytelling, the characters, the situations, and the relationships between the characters. This one is a good add to your realistic fiction collections.