Lake Overturn 

By Vestal McIntyre (Harper)

"Lake overturn" is a phenomenon that occurs when poison gas seeps into a lake until it suddenly releases a giant belch, killing everything that breathes in its wake. It is a scientific mystery and the driving metaphor of Vestal McIntyre's new novel of the same name. Set during the 1986-1987 school year, Lake Overturn studies the inhabitants of Eula, Idaho, and their slow swelling of tabooed desires.

Readers will recognize McIntyre's native Nampa in Eula and may delight in the '80s nostalgia of poufy blouses, feathered hair and the mention of bands such as Styx. McIntyre captures details with the careful eye of a scientist and the empathy of a friend as this coming-of-age story unfolds on a communal level. From the adulterous Mormon lawyer, to the boy in the trailer park examining the town's demise, to the pill-addled surrogate mom, the whole town gasps to breathe: To realize their dreams.

Like a thick Victorian novel, this book is long and sometimes difficult to follow as no central character guides us through the chapters, but somehow that is the point. These are the lives, like our own, that often get overlooked. McIntyre asks us to pay attention and rewards us with a story that is as frightening and beautiful as peeking beneath a rock in your backyard and discovering a nest of ants.


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