Read Lake Overturn by Vestal McIntyre Online


“Striking.... An author is lucky to bring one character so vividly to life: the gifted McIntyre has done it for all of his.” —New York Times Book Review“I felt as if I were reading a modern-day Middlemarch.” — Kate Christensen, PEN/Faulkner Award-winning author of The Great ManA finalist for the Lambda Literary Award and the Publishing Triangle’s Ferro-Grumley Award, Lake“Striking.... An author is lucky to bring one character so vividly to life: the gifted McIntyre has done it for all of his.” —New York Times Book Review“I felt as if I were reading a modern-day Middlemarch.” — Kate Christensen, PEN/Faulkner Award-winning author of The Great ManA finalist for the Lambda Literary Award and the Publishing Triangle’s Ferro-Grumley Award, Lake Overturn is the stirring debut novel of small-town America from critically acclaimed author Vestal McIntyre (You Are Not the One). With intricate plots involving an array of fully realized characters, and dealing with themes such as autism, homosexuality, religion, and addiction, Lake Overturn is sure to appeal to fans of the literary work of Russell Banks (The Sweet Hereafter, Affliction), Rick Moody (The Ice Storm), Augusten Burroughs (Running with Scissors), and Alice Munro (The Moons of Jupiter, The Love of a Good Woman)....

Title : Lake Overturn
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780061671166
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 448 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Lake Overturn Reviews

  • Laura
    2019-05-05 20:04

    This book is a hidden treasure for readers who love well-written character-driven fiction. I was a bit afraid that this would be one of those cutesy, "colorful" books filled with a whole zany cast of (often Southern) small town folk with small town drama, but this isn't that book. There ARE a lot of small town characters and there is drama, but this book is on a whole other level. The characters are brilliantly crafted-so real it's almost uncanny, nuanced, flawed, often heartbreaking, and the author approaches them with true honesty and empathy. There's no artifice here, it's not contrived, there's none of that oh-so-trendy apathy and distance common in too many books today. I fully believe that the author loves each and every one of these characters despite (sometimes maybe because of) their flaws...understands them and loves them.

  • EZRead eBookstore
    2019-05-22 17:20

    We have a modern literary epidemic, admit it. Symptoms include apathetic narrators, shorter novels, yawn-inducing stories of the ultra-rich, unsympathetic characters, and the same old drivel about ultra hip city life. The cure is Vestal McIntyre, taking us back to a time when penicillin cured everything and characters were substantial, interesting, and freakishly relatable. Maybe I tire of a rich girl crisis or Sex and the City escapism, but for some reason, “Lake Overturn” was a big glass of water in a room full of stale Red Bull.As mentioned in the summary, it’s small town Idaho in the 80’s. The connecting thread throughout the varied character stories is the idea of actual lake overturn: a natural disaster where carbon dioxide erupts from deep lake water and poses a deadly threat to anyone living in the vicinity. Metaphorically, all of McIntyre’s characters are also ready to explode. We have Gene (doing a science fair project on lake overturn), his fundamentalist single-mom Connie, his best friend Enrique, Enrique’s housekeeping mother Lina, bus drivers, brothers, aspiring surrogate mother Wanda, and even more than these. McIntyre juggles every chainsaw perfectly, there is no need to make character notes in the margins. I found that there were of course characters I liked reading about more than others (Connie and Wanda were faves), but on the whole, the book is well balanced, and of course the holy grail for me: well paced.Aside from being excellent literary fiction, “Lake Overturn” reminds me of why I love books by Anthony Trollope, “War and Peace”, and the lengthy like. We have so much room to see all of characters grow in a filled-out novel; nothing is sliced and diced like a skinny Palahniuk salad. I prefer my novels to be filling and satisfying, thank you. And McIntyre is a strangely poetic writer, in spite of Idaho and the curse of describing a small town; and also an unbiased and a fantastic narrator of the different faiths, sexualities, and preferences of each character. I have to say, this book gets the big slow clap from me.Recommended like crazy,EZ Read Staffer Jenifer

  • Judith
    2019-05-16 23:04

    In 2001 there was a natural disaster in Cameroon, West Africa and 1,700 people were killed in their sleep from a mysterious fog arising from Lake Nyos. This really happened but the rest of the book is fiction. I loved this book. I loved reading it and I loved thinking about it when I wasn't reading it. What made this book so attractive was the realistic portrayal of such a diverse population of characters and such a multi-dimensional story.The story is about a small town in Idaho where the people are extremely religious, Mormon, Nazarene, Mennonite, and various other types. The connection to the African incident is that 2 junior high students (egghead-rejects) decide to use the African incident as a science fair project. The story is told through the eyes of such a variety of characters and each of them has a different piece of the puzzle.This author tells the story through the point of view of the two young students, their respective single-mothers who are neighbors in a depressing trailer park, the school bus driver, his drug addicted sister and alcoholic uncle, various teenage students, a man whose wife is dying of cancer, a yuppie couple in Portland who are looking for a surrogate mother to carry their baby. And they all seem like real people.The other aspect of this book that was so touching is the author's deep understanding of impoverished, disenfranchised and just plain stupid people. There's a touching scene where a junior high genius is trying to explain his science project to his deeply religious mother. When she finally begins to figure out what he is saying, she protests wildly that his premise is almost as crazy as the evolution theory which they all know is totally ridiculous.

  • K.M. Soehnlein
    2019-05-15 15:27

    This beautifully written book has the sprawl of a Victorian novel with the care and attention to detail of the best contemporary short story. McIntyre brings to life an entire town in Idaho over the course of a year in the mid-1980s. I'm amazed at his powers of observation -- and the even-handed way he presents so many different types of people: a Mexican woman and the Mormon man whose house she cleans; her two sons, one gay and one a bully; the Christian mom in the trailer next door, whose own son is a kind of idiot savant; the town pill-popper, a hopeless case named Wanda, who decides to change her life in a very dramatic way (oh, Wanda, she broke my heart).The story shifts between moments large and small -- momentous events like trying-to-get-pregnant and dealing with terminal illness, alternate with tiny disruptions like saying the wrong thing to someone or reading someone's mood incorrectly, and the consequences that ripple out from these, as if on the surface of the town lake. Characters continually surprise (that bullying older brother becomes highly sympathetic when we're let in on the hopeless crush he feels for the pretty girl, the sister of his jock best friend). Like a lot of books with a large canvas, it took me a while to find my way into the rhythm of the story, and then I hit a point where I couldn't do anything else but read more and more, all the way to the end.

  • Liam
    2019-05-03 23:10

    Clearly a labor, as so many first novels are; funded by the NEA and encouraged by Yaddo, McIntyre's first novel is a meandering, overstuffed ensemble small-town drama set in Idaho in the mid-80s. Mormons, teenagers, mothers, fathers, dying folks, drug addicts, and a science fair all orbit each other in a sort of detail-heavy, slow-cooked race towards an unclear finish. I give it 3 because while McIntyre's clearly very talented, the center really doesn't hold with Lake Overturn. It's about 2/3rds of a great novel, but I don't anticipate much sticking power in the novel as a whole, simply because McIntyre's focus never rests long enough on any of his admittedly compelling plot threads (young boy in jr high comes to understand he's gay! his mother bangs a married dude whose wife is dying of cancer! a single mother yearning for love experiences a drawn-out crisis of faith! a fuckup decides to turn her life around and become a surrogate mother to a Portlandia couple!) to really set the hook the way his luminous, bottomlessly entertaining prose should allow. So, in conclusion; good novel, bad editor.

  • Djrmel
    2019-04-25 18:09

    Vestal McIntyre is a master of character driven fiction. I suspected as much when I read his short story collection, [You Are Not The One:], and this novel goes beyond what he accomplished in that book. The residents of Eula, Idaho are as light as they are dark, they are as happy as they are angry. Not one of them is a caricature, they are flesh and blood and the craziness that lives in all of us. Beyond giving us characters that will make you second, third, and fourth guess your opinions on the people you know in your real life, McIntyre's use of setting makes this a story that will have you looking at your own surroundings with a new eye. This is Southern Gothic without the southern but too modern to be simply gothic, and it is one of the best books I've read this year.

  • Jstrootle
    2019-05-02 18:17

    Fabulous book for book clubs!! We had a great discussion with so many of the topics and issues that the novel presents. Just not my normal cup of tea and it was kind of slow for me since you jump from character to character with no real climax for any of them.

  • Jenny Shank
    2019-05-18 17:23

    From NewWest.Net"Lake Overturn"by Vestal McIntyreHarper, 444 pages, $24.99 Nampa, Idaho native Vestal McIntyre packs the life of a whole town into his accomplished debut novel, "Lake Overturn", set in the fictional Eula, outside of Boise. The characters are fresh and distinct with richly imagined inner lives, and they intersect with each other in unexpected ways. McIntyre writes about people in every level of Eula society with sensitivity and insight, from Abby Hall, the privileged Stanford-bound daughter of a lawyer who is nursing her dying mother through her final days, to Lina, the Mexican-American woman who cleans the Halls' home, to Lina's trailer-park neighbor Connie, an intelligent, devoutly religious single mother, to Wanda Cooper, a woman whose hard-knock beginnings led her into pain pill addiction but who seeks redemption and comes heartbreakingly close to achieving it. "Lake Overturn" is the sort of novel you can lose yourself in, a book you'll want to pass to your friends so you'll have somebody to talk about it with. The plot of "Lake Overturn" builds gradually, the way great character-driven narratives often do, with a simple challenge facing Lina's sharp son Enrique, who wants to enter and win the middle school science fair. He determines that the best partner for the project will be his neighbor Gene, Connie's son, whose antisocial behaviors and interest in scientific calculations place him somewhere on the Asperger's syndrome spectrum. Eventually they settle on a subject for the topic of their project: investigating the mysterious deaths of all the people in a Cameroonian village that seemed to be caused by the village's lake. They eventually hit upon the concept of "lake overturn," when carbon dioxide trapped under a lake is suddenly released, poisoning the nearby air. Enrique and Gene ask what would happen in Eula if a similar phenomenon occurred in nearby Lake Overlook.Meanwhile, Chuck Hall coaxes Lina (who never married the currently absent father of her two sons) into giving him a kiss when she's over to clean his house, and in her astonishment at her own behavior, Lina confesses it to Enrique. "It seemed so dirty," Enrique thinks, "this kiss from some old man who liked watching her clean his toilet." We also meet John Cooper, the school bus driver who can tell when the kids are going to get out of hand. "A few bits of paper had sailed through the air, and when you had driven the bus as long as Coop had, you could read the signs that it would be a hard ride. Paper in the air before you even reached the subdivisions was like thrushes chattering in the treetops: a storm was brewing." Coop's sister Wanda was raised in foster care after their parents died, and as "Lake Overturn" opens she's reached a new low, impersonating a young man's mother at a court appearance in exchange for money she uses to buy drugs. The woman she impersonates is named Theresa Wojciechowski, about which Wanda thinks, "It was an interesting name, and had dignity. It came from far away on a boat and kept its chin up against the battering winds of the sea." Wanda decides to make herself useful, with the goal of becoming a surrogate mother for an infertile couple, something that won't be easy with her criminal record. Liz Padgett is Abby Hall's best friend, and her twin brother Winston is a friend of Enrique's older brother Jay. "On the exterior," McIntyre writes, "Liz was a good-natured, diligent girl, a favorite of her teachers and the first everyone called when they needed a babysitter. But what they labeled a fine work ethic—the fierce determination with which she studied, volunteered, played tennis, and worte for the Eula High Gazette--was in fact, a means to an escape. The quietest of rebels, Liz hated Eula secretly and with her every fiber…This escape was what Liz and Abby called the Big Plan." Liz begins receiving notes from a secret admirer, and like many of the plot details that seem casually introduced, this ends up playing a big role in the novel's conclusion. McIntyre's descriptions are accurate and arresting, such as this one of the landscape near Eula: "Here the sagebrush never changed color but remained forever the same silvery blue, a shade other plants turned only when they were dead. But while sage would have looked pale next to a plant that grew in a amore generous climate, it looked positively lush in comparison to the tumbleweeds that tangled with it and the yellow cheat grass that sprang up between its branches." McIntyre shows an uncommon sensitivity for the religion of his characters, writing from Lina's Catholic perspective, Connie's born-again Christian viewpoint, and about Abby's mother's Mormon beliefs with authority and nuance. He weaves in faith during unexpected moments, such as in this passage:"December would often end without the arrival of snow. When it finally fell, people would remember why they had been hoping for it all that time: their yellow, broken gardens were buried and the trees were full again, only this time full of jewels. Snow was like a good sermon that made everything simple and clear: there was the snow and the sky, with Eula wedged cozily in-between." McIntyre also excels in portraying the trials of adolescence, particularly through his depiction of Enrique, who is beginning to realize that he is attracted to men, and that he must hide this fact in order to survive. The story of Enrique is like a first-rate coming-of-age narrative embedded within this larger examination of a town."Lake Overturn" is structured cleverly in sections whose themes are based on the successive parts of the scientific method: problem, research, hypothesis, experimentation, analysis, and results. All of the stories converge in an elegant way at the end. McIntyre told the Advocate, "I wanted to write a big book with a broad perspective, like a good 19th-century novel. I love those Victorian novels with a lot of characters like Trollope and Dickens had.” And while he has achieved this, "Lake Overturn" feels very American, on par with Richard Russo's fine, lengthy evocations of small-town life. "Lake Overturn" is a Novel with a capital N—it does everything that great novels have always done: entertaining, transporting, edifying, and ultimately satisfying the reader, and McIntyre has written it with incredible heart.

  • Donovan Richards
    2019-05-01 15:26

    Literary fiction takes many forms. Sometimes it takes the shape of social satire placed within a simple narrative, other times it takes the form of an author, self-aware of the words he or she places on the page, and even still, other times it takes the form of a complexly interwoven plot. Partly masterful and partly mundane, Vestal McIntyre's Lake Overturn follows the characters of a small town of Eula in rural Idaho. Even though the setting and characters in this book strikingly resemble Napoleon Dynamite, this book spends no time seeking to be a comedy. The foundational plot line upon which the narrative is built centers upon the frightening phenomenon occurring at Lake Nyos in Cameroon. At the lake, gas was released from the depths of the lake and suffocated every living animal around the lake. In the novel, two junior high boys attempt to study what would happen if the lake overturn phenomenon occurred in their small town.Titled lake overturn, this phenomenon happens when deep lakes build up extremely concentrated levels of carbon dioxide. When the pressure becomes too much for the lake's surface to bear, carbon dioxide bubbles from the depths of the lake similarly to a shaken soda can. Correspondingly, McIntyre's novel builds through a complex narrative of multiple main characters before the pressure in each character’s life releases as the novel opens up toward its end. In different ways, each character builds through depth and quality until their inner demons expose themselves in fantastic fashion. One character struggles with his sexuality, one seeks to find redemption from her addictive tendencies, and another despairingly searches for biblical answers to her ever-present loneliness.The masterful portions of the book follow from these complex characters. McIntyre flawlessly switches between characters as they enter the story. Multiple times, one character runs into another in a paragraph and the next paragraph picks up on the new character's narrative. In writing this way, the author creates a complex web of relationships that truly place the focus on a small town community.However, McIntyre's focus on narrative diminishes his artistic observation. Throughout my reading of this book, I never paused on a paragraph reflecting on a powerful observation or a striking metaphor. In Lake Overturn, McIntyre writes a story with no flashy frills or philosophical underpinnings. Nevertheless, he writes a compelling story, one I would recommend for its unique characters.Originally posted at

  • Kyle
    2019-05-12 17:58

    I first stumbled across this book in San Francisco at A Different Light, shortly before the author was set to come discuss it. It looked interesting, but I never picked it up, figuring I could get it when I arrived home. Well, two years later I finally managed to find a copy and read it.Lake overturn is a phenomena where carbon dioxide collects at the bottom of a lake and finally bubbles up to the surface, where it escapes and can kill anybody in its path. This, essentially, is what the story is about. It focuses on the residents of a small Idaho town in 1989, who are allowing everything to grow and fester beneath the surface, and when things finally come to a head, things aren't going to be the same and the (emotional) landscapes for all of the characters are going to be different.It was an engaging book, but for a time I didn't know if I'd be able to finish it. Towards the end, I knew that it wasn't going to necessarily have a happy ending, and it was difficult watching some of these characters move towards the inevitable unhappiness that would eventually envelop them. But I forced myself to continue, and while it wasn't necessarily a happy ending, it wasn't as sad as I assumed that it might be.Laid out like a science experiment, the characters are essentially following the scientific method (even those who don't believe in science and are fighting against the Big Bang Theory). Every character encounters some sort of problem, they reflect on what's going on, they make a guess as to what it means, and then they carry out research and adjust the course of their lives, as need be. Those who are able to follow through end up emotionally happy and willing to go on with their lives, while those that don't fall back into the same patterns as before.This book made me deeply uncomfortable, and that's why I think I ended up liking it so much. That's what fiction does. I liked this book, it made me uncomfortable, and finishing it made me feel like I had passed a sort of test, that I had done something that I didn't know I could do. I realize that that probably sounds hokey, but it's still true.

  • Monika
    2019-05-14 23:19

    I have been reading memoir after memoir and watching bravo reality television episode after shitty bravo reality television episode. needless to say, my brain is melting and all of this trash consumption has hindered my ability to enjoy scripted television and fiction. it's all so sad. I can thank Vestal McIntyre for writing such a gripping book and restoring my faith that I, too, can read fiction. I got frustrated (but was still gripped) towards the end when skipping between character plots became all the more frequent and I started imagining it like the conclusion of a movie along the lines of Crash. A lot of the chapters cut away to 2 months down the line when an incident is resolved and it felt a bit cheap/hollywood but this is me being hyper critical when I was literally walking along the crowded streets of times square, reading the book, risking running into a pole or smacking into an angry pedestrian because I didn't want to close the pages (holy run-on!)This book covers so many themes: small town life, science fairs, drunks, bus drivers, surrogate mothers, gay autistic teenagers, high school dances, trailer parks, cancer, mormons. They all make up for this fascinating small town and even more fascinating characters. I loved every one of them. and I came out of the book learning a few interesting things along the way, as well. Highly recommended for those wannabe fiction lovers out there that can't put down chick memoirs.

  • Elizabeth K.
    2019-04-25 17:20

    I am very unclear as to how I feel about this book. It takes place in the 1980s, set in a small town in Idaho, the plot covers multiple characters and their interactions, direct and indirect. There are a lot of Issues here. Everyone has a big Issue looming over them - the kid who is figuring out his sexuality, the man having an affair, the girl whose mother is terminally ill, the woman readjusting to having her teenage son return from foster care ... everyone is a Lifetime movie. And a big part of me couldn't stop thinking REALLY? REALLY, everyone in this town is having a movie-of-the-week issue at the same time? On the other hand, the writing was quite solid. There wasn't a word or a phrase that struck the wrong tone in the entire thing, just about. It was consistent, believable, and created a clarity of description that was impressive. I'm still pondering the choice of the time period. Grade: I'm going to go with a very dependable B.Recommended: Well, I think the subject matter could be annoying, so I would consider the Afterschool Specialness of it carefully before picking it up. It's not bad, but not outstanding, in the "Little Town, Big Secrets" genre.

  • Martin
    2019-05-06 18:00

    This was chosen for our book club and I was a little excited to read it. Well....I couldn't decide whether this was a 2.5 or a 3 for me. It seems like most books I read these days are just an average 3 star.There was nothing earth shattering or enlightening here and the metaphor of the toxic lake was "piqueing" to my interest but it just didn't do that much for me. I think the author was trying to cover too many bases here and it read a little bit like a soap opera.Lake Overtun is an easy read but it just teetered a tiny bit too far over to the area that I consider "contrived". A small town, damaged characters, divorce, death, secrets, lies,'s all here in 443 pages. I did enjoy the science fair story line and thought that it could have really added some depth had it been more developed. I also liked the 80s references and they did seem authentic. This book reminds me of something that John Hughes could have made into a good movie if it had been written 25 years ago and John Hughes was still making movies.For me, not great but also not the worst book I ever read. My friend and I agree that "readability" is not always a bad thing.

  • Alex
    2019-05-04 15:24

    I actually met Vestal McIntyre about a year-and-a-half ago, at a literary seminar. He's unassuming, funny, clearly smart, and had just sold Lake Overturn. He couldn't, or didn't describe it to me as anything other than hard to describe.For me, Lake Overturn is very describable, and I'd use the same words I used to describe it's author. Unassuming: the novel is seemingly a quite simple collection of stories, set in a small, Idaho town, over the course of a about a year. Funny: the novel is dark but hopeful, unsparing but real. So is it funny? I never laughed out loud, but greatly enjoyed how deeply a wry sense of humor permeated many a page. Clearly smart: framed by the scientific method (don't ask, just read), the novel asks big questions in subtle, un-showy ways, and links a daisy-chain of characters through unthinking, deadly, very-real facts of life. So I'll stick with it. I don't know Vestal well enough to say I loved him, but I did love this book. I think you will too.

  • Ray
    2019-05-12 23:10

    I have a hard time with the rating system here. Largely because I think about reading more in relation to the parts of a novel rather than their sum. In this case, the sum was disappointing but the prose was very good for the first half and decent for the second. And from moment to moment I was enthralled.However, if I were to be fair this is proably a 3 start book.Writing from the POV of something like nine characters is perhaps over-reaching. I enjoyed each person's story and I appreciate that this author didn't tie all of their plot lines together neatly or at all in some cases, but still. It's hard to believe that enough life-changing things happened during one period of time that justify the simultaneous telling of this many stories.And I am sure this was the point, but so many of the chaarcter's lives and choices were depressing.But again, I read this is an almost 24-hour period and greatly enjoyed how engrossed I was.

  • Chris
    2019-05-20 22:14 if any additional demonstration was needed not to ever move to, or even pass through, the state of Idaho. Oh, Jay, get the hell out of there to somewhere where you will be more appreciated! Wanda, it destroyed you beyond hope...Connie, you proved you don't have a single rational neuron in your brain...Coop, at least you found your salmon stream...Liz you bitch...Gene, you would so fit in at MIT if only you could escape...and Enrique, will you ever find love beyond the Greyhound men's room? Many died in Eula when it "overturned" in this novel. How many more will die in spirit or in reality due to Idaho's ultraconservative culture? Toxic, toxic, place. Deeply felt and relevant book.

  • Laura
    2019-04-29 23:16

    About a third of the way into this book I realized that I really didn't care about any of the many characters. There are so many threads here: Lima, Enrique and Gene, the Halls, Wanda, Coop, Jay, Abby... and none of them made me want to read on. The stories are starting to intersect, and I can sort of imagine where they're leading but that's for other readers to find out.Copy provided by publisher.

  • Jason Tougaw
    2019-05-01 17:59

    I've read this book twice, and I couldn't put it down either time. The characters are like crystal: beautiful, refracting evertying around them, breakable but pretty strong. The plot is almost nineteenth century, with lives intersecting unexpectedly and with a satisfying ending. Maybe we need more 19C-style plots written in the contemporary American vernacular. There's not a tiny dot of bullshit here. I say read this book.

  • David Driver
    2019-05-21 16:20

    Big yes on this one. I found it beautifully written, and pretty much loved everything about it. I wish I could make it into a movie, and hope someone does. If you know Greg Araki, please call him and tell him to do that. Or maybe Gus Van Sant? Not sure...

  • Bernadine
    2019-05-09 23:24

    best book I've read in awhile

  • Holly
    2019-05-04 17:08

    There were a lot of issues and a lot of characters. I thought they would intersect in some big climax. Oddly, the most climactic moment was Abby's speech in summer school and she was a fairly tangential character. In the end, I found the whole thing strange.

  • gLawrence Baumgartner
    2019-05-12 20:00

    Interesting story. Not sure what I expected but was pleasantly surprised by a story I did not expect. Found myself saying "I know these people". Not need to revisit or place author on pedestal, but worth the read if you looking for strong character building; borrow from the library.

  • Frederick
    2019-04-30 20:58

    The central characters of this novel are Enrique and Gene, two middle-school kids of the CALVIN AND HOBBES-era (the mid-1980's, of course), who are planning to make a science fair presentation involving a replication of a natural disaster. They want to show that Lake Overlook, near their hometown of Eula, Idaho, can undergo the same thing that has happened in a lake in India: The burping of the lake, if you will, causing a deadly gas to escape. The opening of the novel (the title of which caught my eye and which is perfectly suited to the upturning of the lives of its characters) describes the disaster in India in the manner of a Michael Crichton prologue. The real action of the novel begins after this. Enrique, a middle-school boy of exactly the sort who would be fascinated with natural disasters, asks his friend Eugene, a high-functioning autistic boy who has essentially intuited the cause of the disaster, to make a science project about the phenomenon. LAKE OVERTURN spreads outward from the point at which Eugene and Enrique converge.Vestal McIntyre's technique is to more or less pull the microscope up from this point, gradually allowing more and more to enter the field of vision. The lives of the many characters are interconnected. Psychological accuracy is this novel's strongest suit. It is particularly good when it shows people doing disastrous things when they were consciously doing things leading toward the improvement of their lives. In short, McIntyre's characters are not complete victims of fate, although many face almost insurmountable odds. LAKE OVERTURN shows how consequence often stems from a deed and not from mere happenstance.This is a deep novel, but a reader must be quite patient with it. I found Enrique, Gene, Jay and Coop intrinsically interesting, and some other characters were interesting in relation to them. But several threads of the narrative, although absolutely plausible, simply didn't hold my interest. It seems to me that other readers may find those parts the more interesting ones and the ones I enjoyed the less interesting, but I imagine very few readers will feel that all the characters were compelling. I'll give an example of a book written in a similar way to LAKE OVERTURN, with a sprawling narrative involving characters who touch each others' lives without necessarily knowing each other: Richard price's LUSH LIFE. That book, by a man who's been at this for about forty years, is engrossing. LAKE OVERTURN, as accomplished as it is in the technique it shares with LUSH LIFE, made me want to sort out its various chapters and turn the book into three novellas. That said, I'll point out that a lot of readers want to cut the chapters about whale biology out of MOBY-DICK, and a lot of Melville's point would be lost if that were done.I recommend LAKE OVERTURN to people who appreciate dynamics and also to those who want to watch a writer who is going to be doing serious work for as long as he chooses to write.

  • Lisa Vallier
    2019-04-22 21:05

    If you read, you'll like Lake Overturn by Vestal McIntyre. This is a unique and compelling story set in a small town in Idaho but really about Anytown, USA. Two young boys read of a natural disaster, called Lake Overturn, that happened in 1986 in Cameroon, West Africa. One of the boys, Enrique, decides to base his upcoming science project on the phenomenon. He asks his friend to be his partner but the friend proves to be more of a project than the model they build. Enrique, his mother and brother live in a trailer park. Enrique's Mom, Lina, cleans houses on the other side of town. When her client's husband, Chuck, comes on to her, the two begin to fall in love. Lina's guilt over the affair leads her to confess to both her priest and her son. The situation is made more complicated when Enrique's father makes an unplanned visit and Chuck’s wife turns out to be fatally ill. While Lina dusts and debates whether to follow her heart, across town, Wanda, a down on her luck recovering-ish drug addict, tries to pull her life together. She decides she will never find the perfect man so she looks to surrogacy to fill the void. She meets a needy couple, says all the right (lies) things and gets pregnant. As Wanda's story unfolds she falters and recovers over and over. Ultimately whether she can change her life lies in one moment of decision making. Vestal's story telling is at it's best with Wanda. One moment you are rooting for her, the next you hope she’s hit by a bus.While Lina cleans house and Wanda tries to get clean, Connie, Lina's neighbor in the trailer park and a religious zealot with an unrequited libido, latches on to a traveling missionary. Connie's son, Gene, is Enrique's somewhat autistic science partner, and as Connie tries to follow God's path (which of course includes judging everyone else along the way) she ignores her son’s needs to the point the reader is left shaking their head wondering how much religion is too much. As these characters make their way through what amounts to daily life, we feel we are in the room, in their heads, with them as they make decisions good and bad. We feel their pain, we see the road ahead, and when the book is done and all the lose ends come together, it's one of those books where you wish there were more just so we could hang in Eula, Idaho a little longer. If you enjoy fantastic storytelling, beautifully written descriptions and complex, realistic characters this novel is for you. Check it out!

  • Jennifer W
    2019-04-24 16:08

    So far my main critique is that all the characters sound very similar and are not well introduced. I just finished a chapter in which 3 new characters are introduced, 1 "older" woman and 2 teenage young men. I still don't know how old the woman is, though she pretends to be the mother to one of the boys. So far, I'm not convinced that I'm reading the same book that everyone else seems to be raving about.After finishing I still don't know what everyone was raving about. The characters were flat. No one changed or evolved by the end of the story. The science fair that was billed as the main plot just fizzled out in the middle of the book. Too many of the characters felt redundant to me. There were 2 single moms (but not really, their husbands were somewhere, just not in the picture), 2 outcast loner teenage boys who don't fit in, 2 teenage girls who hate their high school (though to be fair, Abby was my favorite character), and a brother sister pair who have been so tormented by their childhoods that they're practically disabled. I could understand if one of those pairs was supposed to be a mirror to the other, but in order to pull that off, one needs to grow, the other needs to stagnate. This story could have been a lot tighter if some of those pairings had been trimmed and characters given multiple roles that would have more firmly linked some of the other stories. To be fair, the writing was good and I never felt like it was forced. Although at least twice I caught continuity problems (a character makes a big deal about standing up from the floor only to stand again 5 sentences later, pages 12 and 13 in my edition, look it up). Perhaps these complaints of mine were intentional on the part of the author, but hopefully he works further at his craft and refines it. I would read him again, but next time, I stick to my 50 pages and out rule.

  • Anya Weber
    2019-05-23 16:03

    This book could be a how-to manual for anyone trying to write literary fiction. I've read a lot of other novels like this one--teenagers and adults in a small American city come of age and face various crises. But McIntyre creates a seemless flow between their points of view, and even though the characters' stories are familiar, that doesn't make them less resonant. Reading this, I kept thinking of Dan Chaon's books and stories, which are set in a very similar world. Chaon's stuff is weirder and leaves me with a deeper ache; if you read Lake Overturn and like it, you might want to check him out too. I wish McIntyre would learn to use "lie" and "lay" correctly; there are about ten embarrassing errors throughout the novel. His publisher is also to blame for not fixing that; it makes the book less classy than it would be otherwise.Lake Overturn isn't perfect, but it's touching as all get-out, and it's McIntyre's first novel--I bet he will only grow in power as he writes more.

  • Tal Goretsky
    2019-05-02 17:59

    This beautiful novel embraces you from the beginning and pulls you into a story both dark and hopeful. Set in a small town in Idaho in the mid-80s, the story is told through several characters: two outcast junior-high boys navigating through the jock-ruled world of school; their single mothers - neighbors in the "good part" of a trailer park; a well-meaning 30-year old woman who can't help spiraling into trouble; her older brother, the school bus-driver; and two high-school girls who can't wait to get out of their small town but are trapped in its machinations. I don't often read books about country folk, and I feel like my eyes were opened. It's astonishing how close the reader gets to the characters' minds and how the writer inter-laces the plot lines as they barrel down to each of their respective conclusions. The title, Lake Overturn, refers to a mysterious natural phenomenon where trapped gasses can amass at the bottom of a lake and one day release unexpectedly to the surface, killing hundreds or thousands of inhabitants nearby instantly. This could be a metaphor for the trouble brewing in each character that ultimately releases itself for better or for worse. An absorbing, wonderful read.

  • Peggy
    2019-05-20 22:05

    This is the story of Eula, Idaho, a small town with interesting characters living in it. It is the story of generations and what happens in their lives. Most of the book is about the people who live in a small trailer park. Some are of Mexican hertiage, some of native American and some are of mixed heritage. Connie and Lina are 2 single mothers who live there with their children. Their sons, Gene and Enrique are misfits, but the are brilliant in their own ways. Connie is a nurses aide who cares a lot about her patients and her church. Lina is a housecleaner for the rich folks in Eula. She falls in love with a rich lawyer whose wife is dying of cancer and whose daughter is helping Enrique and Gene with their science project. GEne and Enrique try to figure out why many people in an African village died one night in their beds when strange vapors from a nearby lake overtook them. This is their science project. They win the local science fair.Most of the book is about the complex relationships of the townspeople. It is also about small town beauty and treachery.

  • Rebecca
    2019-04-30 21:15

    January 2010 update:I think back on this novel so often as I read other great books, that I had to return and give it 5 stars, even though I wouldn't necessarily call it a "favorite". Below is my original August 2009 review: This is a beautiful novel, definitely in the top tier. I was so immediately captivated by the story, I finished it one day. While not one of my absolute favorites, if I could, I would give it 4.5 stars. The book’s narrative reminded me of great ensemble acting in movies with its delicately intertwined lives and psychologically and emotionally engaging characters. I’m not a fan of sad books, and while this novel has dark undercurrents, there is a feeling of hope as well. Like other reviewers, at the end of the book, I felt I had lost friends. McIntyre’s writing is gentle and sympathetic, yet compelling, and I will look for more of his work in the future. I wish I had better words myself to describe Lake Overturn; perhaps it’s best that I just strongly encourage you to read this nuanced portrait of small town Idaho in the 1980s for yourself. Won in a Goodreads giveaway--thank you Goodreads!

  • Chris
    2019-05-19 21:12

    In the spirit of Raymond Carver, Vestal McIntyre’s remarkable debut novel, Lake Overturn, profiles the small American town of Eula, Idaho where the seemingly ordinary lives and mundane existences of some of its residents prove to be anything but simple and routine. Told from several different perspectives, the novel’s main characters include the youngsters, Enrique and Gene, who live beside each other in a trailer park, Lina and Connie, their respective mothers, Wanda, a recovering addict, and high school seniors, Liz and Abby. Each of these characters--who collectively represent only a sample from the entire cast--has his or her own uphill battle: a dying mother, a married lover, a stalking admirer, a withdrawn friend, and an absent spouse, to name just a few of their struggles. Although the stories are interconnected (loosely, in some cases), they could all easily stand alone, and the author manages to subtly yet cleverly arrive at a conclusion of sorts, that doesn’t so much represent a climax but rather an ending in a chapter of these people’s lives. Unsettling, impressive and worthy of endless discussion.