5 reviews

The Edge of Lost
by Kristina Mcmorris

Published: 2015-11-24
Paperback : 352 pages
13 members reading this now
22 clubs reading this now
6 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 4 of 5 members
***NEW YORK TIMES AND USA TODAY BESTSELLER*** "Will grab your heart on page one and won't let go until the end."    --Sara Gruen, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Water for Elephants  On a cold night in October 1937, searchlights cut through the darkness around Alcatraz. A ...
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"Will grab your heart on page one and won't let go until the end."
    --Sara Gruen, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Water for Elephants
On a cold night in October 1937, searchlights cut through the darkness around Alcatraz. A prison guard's only daughter--one of the youngest civilians who lives on the island--has gone missing. Tending the warden's greenhouse, convicted bank robber Tommy Capello waits anxiously. Only he knows the truth about the little girl's whereabouts, and that both of their lives depend on the search's outcome.

Almost two decades earlier and thousands of miles away, a young boy named Shanley Keagan ekes out a living as an aspiring vaudevillian in Dublin pubs. Talented and shrewd, Shan dreams of shedding his dingy existence and finding his real father in America. The chance finally comes to cross the Atlantic, but when tragedy strikes, Shan must summon all his ingenuity to forge a new life in a volatile and foreign world.

Skillfully weaving these two stories, Kristina McMorris delivers a compelling novel that moves from Ireland to New York to San Francisco Bay. As her finely crafted characters discover the true nature of loyalty, sacrifice, and betrayal, they are forced to confront the lies we tell--and believe--in order to survive.

Editorial Review

No editorial review at this time.



Alcatraz Island
October 1937

Fog encircled the island, a strangling grip, as search efforts mounted. In the moonless sky, dark clouds forged a dome over the icy currents of San Francisco Bay.
“You two check the docks,” shouted Warden Johnston, his voice muffled by rain and howling wind. “We’ll take the lighthouse. The rest of you spread out.”
More people traded directives, divvying up territory. They were off-duty guards and teenage sons who called Alcatraz their home, an odd place where a maze of fencing and concrete kept families of the prison staff safe from the country’s most notorious criminals. ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

1. From Irish pubs to Bronx supper clubs, and burlesque shows to prison cells, The Edge of Lost features several diverse parts of history. Did you learn something new from the story? What was the most interesting?

2. At a young age, Shan learned to quickly adapt to his surroundings, much like a chameleon. How did this ability both help and hinder his personal growth?

3. In hindsight, much of life could be viewed as ripples set into motion by a handful of pivotal events. How different would Shan’s life have been if he had never left Ireland? How would this have affected the lives of the other major characters?

4. The deeply held secrets of many characters were revealed throughout the story. Do you agree with their reasons for keeping those secrets? Is withholding the truth the same as lying? Is it always best to be forthcoming?

5. Early on, Shan became dependent on humor to survive and later recognized how trust and likability are often cultivated through making people laugh. Discuss how different each segment of his life would have been without this skill.

6. From Uncle Will’s exchanges with Doc O’Halloran, Shan observed, “When a person had something you needed, it was best to show you were worthy.” How did this belief translate into Shan’s relationships with each member of the Capello family?

7. In recalling his late parents, “Shan felt the weight of their absence, as heavy as stone on his chest.” How did this traumatic childhood loss influence his future choices?

8. Not only Shan, but Mr. Capello, Nick, and Josie all sought a form of redemption. Do you think each one fully achieved that? Is it possible to right a wrong with an unrelated act?

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

“Compelling, resonant and deeply moving, The Edge of Lost is an absorbing tale of deceit and self-deception, survival and second chances, the ties that bind and the lure of the unknown.”—Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train

“The Edge of Lost is an epic tale of struggle, loss, ingenuity, and—most importantly—the tenacity of one man’s innate decency in the face of crippling obstacles. The story will grab your heart on page one and won’t let go until the end—and if you’re like me, not even then.”—Sara Gruen, New York Times bestselling author of Water for Elephants

“This book has it all, well developed characters, vivid descriptions of Dublin and New York during that time period, love, forgiveness, fortitude, humility…There is a wonderful interview with the author at the end of the book, and questions and answers that would be very useful for book clubs.”—Dorie Schultz (reader’s review on Goodreads)

“Shan's tale grabs readers from the very start and doesn't let up until the dynamic conclusion. Historical details give The Edge of Lost even more dimension and a vivid imagery of the time and locales…Another work of genius by the talented Kristina McMorris.”—Fresh Fiction

“McMorris’ gripping immigrant saga sweeps from Dublin to New York, through Prohibition and vaudeville, from New York to San Francisco and Alcatraz. It is a young man’s battle with hardship and tragedy, but it is also a portrait of America during a turbulent time and a quest that ends in triumph. Readers will be caught up in this well-told story.”—RT Book Reviews

Book Club Recommendations

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
by jillkuykendall (see profile) 01/21/21

  "Just Okay"by LadyD918 (see profile) 03/02/18

Our book club met and of 8 people one did not like it at all, and the other 7 thought it was just okay. The consensus was that the ending was unnecessarily contrived and unbelievable, Also, there were... (read more)

  "The Edge of Lost"by dogdmc49 (see profile) 05/08/17

I really enjoyed the book

  "TItle and Summary are somewhat misleading"by BookDivasReads (see profile) 08/16/16

The vast majority of the members in my book group felt that the title and summary set them up for a story about Alcatraz and they were disappointed. If you skip the prologue and head straight into the... (read more)

by cradke (see profile) 06/17/16

  "Get Lost in the words of the Edge of Lost"by nbaker (see profile) 04/28/16

What a beautifully written story about one boy's journey from childhood to manhood. A young boy, Shan, finds himself in Ireland, orphaned and taken in by an ill-tempered, miserly uncle. The ... (read more)

by Christie Lambert (see profile) 02/09/16

  "The Edge of Lost"by Carolynr (see profile) 01/05/16

The author does a great job of interweaving the stories of two seemingly different characters. Easy read, good book

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