The Lost Book of Adana Moreau may leave you feeling as though you have somehow read an entire library of stories, each of which is distinct and yet weaves seamlessly into the next. Author Michael Zapata’s storytelling style captures the feeling of drifting on an ocean of voices, propelled by the desire to hear and honor each one. The first character introduced is the Last Pirate of the New World, making it fitting that Zapata’s whole narrative has an underlying feel of the rhythm of the ocean to it. The story is of a boy whose father is a pirate and whose mother is a Dominican immigrant, there is an undeniable sense of reality and relatability in this tale as Maxwell’s life echoes the clash of the old world and new world — seeking a sense of balance and belonging.
Zapata has put great intention into the stories that are presented in this novel. Stories told by various immigrant characters all echo with common feelings of displacement, uncertainty, and hope. There is the underlying sense of bated breath, of knowing that the world is going to change — violently and suddenly. These feelings manifest again a generation or two later when the character of Saul opens himself up to the stories of those around him, most especially those told by his good friend and story-seeker of his own, Javier. Saul and Javier’s journey parallels a journey taken decades earlier by Maxwell Moreau, and these quests are interwoven with each other throughout the book, pulling the reader in deeper, and leaving the nearly-arbitrary framework of time far away.
Like the pull of the ocean itself, each character beckons the reader to come closer and to listen. “Memory is a gravitational force” explains a bus passenger during an interview; this feels especially poignant for Javier, whose life goals seems to be preserving stories, and to Saul, who starts to appreciate storytelling after the death of his grandfather.
Each character the reader interacts with is like a portal to another world, which resonates with the ideas in Adana Moreau’s original book, presented as a masterpiece that has yet to be granted the fame it deserves. Her lost manuscript is a driving force, bringing together those whose lives had grown apart, and the stories created following this reunion. Zapata’s trance-like storytelling really does make one question if there could be parallel worlds, and makes the reader contemplate these infinite possible worlds.
Rebecca Zaretsky works at a synagogue as the Youth & Family Education & Program Coordinator. She has a Bachelor’s degree in the study of Humanities, primarily visual arts and literature.