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The Edge of Lost by [Mcmorris, Kristina]
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The Edge of Lost Kindle Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 208 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

McMorris (The Pieces We Keep) subverts the rags-to-riches immigrant story in this breezy tale set between Ireland and Alcatraz. In the preface, we meet inmate 257 of Alcatraz before the story opens years earlier in Ireland when young Shanley Keagan, orphaned and scraping by with his drunken uncle, discovers he has an American father. They set off to find him, but Shan's uncle dies in transit, leaving Shan to fend for himself. Fortunately, the Capellos, an Italian family on the ship, take an interest, although the tradeoff is that Shan must give up his name and become a Capello. The story makes for compulsive reading as it jumps between Shan's youth and young adulthood, touching on such diverse underworlds as the Black Hand mafia, which Shan becomes entangled with when he joins the Capellos, and the Vaudeville life, which he aspires to join as a performer and comic. There is a lot to cover however, and at times Shan's character as presented to the reader – sensitive, loyal, and passive– contrasts rather unconvincingly with how others characters perceive him – tough and ruthless, but this is still an intricate and intriguing entry into the American immigrant canon. (Dec.)


"McMorris evokes such a strong sense of place that to open her books feels less like reading and more like traveling. Her absorbing new novel...[is] a transporting piece of historical fiction."
-- BookPage
"The story makes for compulsive reading as it jumps between Shan's youth and young adulthood, touching on such diverse underworlds as the Black Hand mafia...and the vaudeville life. An intricate and intriguing entry into the American immigrant canon."
-- Publishers Weekly 
"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 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. I absolutely love this book, and so will you."
-- Sara Gruen, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Water for Elephants
"Richly woven and absorbing... [a] compelling tale of survival and second chances, and of one immigrant's fantastic journey in the first decades of the 20th century."
-- The Boston Globe 
"Beautifully written with mesmerizing details, this is one of those books that sticks with the reader... an absolute must-have."
-- VOYA Magazine
"A beautifully told story about a young man's journey through adversity and loss with an exhilarating ending that I couldn't put down."
-- Charles Belfoure, New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Architect
"In terms of both the character and the era, McMorris took a chance, and she succeeded. And the careful plotting--another McMorris hallmark--pays off in an absorbing story."
-- Kitsap Sun 
"The Edge of Lost is a thoroughly mesmerizing novel. I adore everything Kristina McMorris writes and this book is no exception."
-- Jennifer Robson, international bestselling author of Somewhere in France

"Grabs readers from the very start and doesn't let up until the dynamic conclusion. The Edge of Lost is another work of genius by the talented Kristina McMorris." 
-- Fresh Fiction 
"The Edge of Lost takes readers on an enthralling journey...right up to a tense, edge-of-your-seat ending that left me breathless. An absorbing, addictive read."
-- Beatriz Williams, New York Times bestselling author of A Hundred Summers

"McMorris manages to pack this book with all the messiness and nuances of life. Her vivid descriptions and use of language make you feel like the 'fly on the wall'... I heartily recommend embarking on this journey."
-- The Daily Herald
"[A] gripping immigrant 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

"In The Edge of Lost McMorris takes us on a thrilling ride... I found myself thoroughly immersed in her richly evocative settings, just as I was captivated by the pure humanity of her characters. This book is a wonderful read."
-- David R. Gillham, New York Times bestselling author of City of Women

Product Details

  • File Size: 800 KB
  • Print Length: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Kensington (November 24, 2015)
  • Publication Date: November 24, 2015
  • Sold by: Penguin Random House Publisher Services
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00U7LG76I
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,107 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
This book was not at all what I was expecting based on the description. I was so excited to learn about civilians living on Alcatraz. I didn't even know that happened until reading about this book. Unfortunately, McMorris' tale is really a slow narrative about Shan Keagan, an Irish boy who immigrates to the U.S. in 1919. His uncle dies on the boat over, so he's taken in by an Italian family while he searches for his birth father.

The story follows Shan over the next 20 years, but he doesn't end up in prison on Alcatraz until the last quarter of the book. And the portion of the plot involving the young girl is very brief. I was disappointed. This isn't a bad book. It's just not at all what I was hoping to read.

Based on the description I also thought the story might be told in alternating time periods or by using flashbacks, but other than a short prologue, the story is laid out linearly. Based on the author's note, she seems to have set out to tell a story about Alcatraz, so a different approach may have better suited that goal.

I enjoyed some elements of the story, but overall I found it to be too slow and too descriptive. I would classify this book as literary fiction, as well as historical fiction, and I don't particularly care for overly detailed prose.

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Format: Paperback
A special thank you to Kensington and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. 4.5 Stars

Kristina McMorris skillfully delivers an impeccably researched and compelling novel, AT THE EDGE OF LOST, a blending of historical fact and fiction---ultimately, a story of second chances, hope, love, forgiveness and sacrifice.

As the book opens on Alcatraz Island, Oct 1937, an inmate (Capello) inside the warden’s greenhouse strains to listen. A little girl ten years old has gone missing. A prison guard's only daughter has gone missing as we venture back a decade, to learn the history of a man, prior to becoming a convicted bank robber, and coming to America.

In Dublin, Ireland in 1919, we meet (Shan) Shanley Keagan. Orphaned at twelve, he goes to live with his abusive uncle Will, and works at the pub, as a gifted performer. However, his life takes a different turn, when he discovers a letter of his mom’s from an American father, he never knew. You feel for the boy, handing the money to his cruel uncle who spends it at the local pub.

At a young age Shan quickly learns to adapt to his surroundings, depending on humor and making people laugh. The dreams and hopes of a small boy to come to America. Some of these elements served him well, later on in life, a protective shield when subjected to a cold crowd.

As he travels to America he meets an Italian-American family, the Capellos, who take him in. He is loyal and grateful to this warm family for giving him a start. Later he becomes involved in a crime while trying to save Nick and winds up in Alcatraz prison in San Francisco. (you will root for Shan, and fall in love with his character).
Read more ›
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Edge of Lost is a gripping story, beginning with the prologue, when we first meet Tommy Capello, an inmate at Alcatraz in 1937. A search is going on for a missing girl, and somehow Tommy is involved, setting the stage for an intriguing story which spans continents and decades. When we first meet Shanley Keagan, he is an 11-year-old orphan, eking out a living for he and his uncle by singing and performing in Dublin pubs. It's a hardscrabble life, and eventually Shan and his uncle make their way to America, where Shan hopes to be reunited with his real father. But tragedy strikes on their journey, and the young boy has to use his cunning and ingenuity to forge a new life in New York, a world that comes with a new set of challenges and dangers. As Shan's story unfolds, we are taken on an emotional journey to Dublin, NY, Leavenworth, and finally, Alcatraz. It takes the reader through the gritty worlds of vaudeville, burlesque, prohibition and organized crime. But mostly it is the story of a smart, talented young man, who has had to deal with adversity and loss throughout his young life; a story of hardship, survival, family, and loyalty. This book will grab your heart and soul, and you will not want to stop reading once you start. It is a compelling, heart-wrenching, and mesmerizing book.
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Format: Paperback
Review Copy Provided by Author

Kristina is one of my favorite authors and THE EDGE OF LOST proves exactly why. I couldn't stop flipping the pages and couldn't wait until the mystery was solved. I had no idea it would end the way it did but I absolutely loved the ending! Kristina McMorris pulls her readers back in time with this gripping story and I loved every single page! My heart went out to Shan and all he had to go through in his life.

While on his way from Dublin to America, he meets Nick Capello and after helping him in a fight on the ship, Nick gives him a life changing gift. He gets his parents to agree to get Shan through Ellis Island by saying he is their son. Shan spends the rest of his life trying to repay that gift. The situations Shan gets into throughout his life, will have you holding your breath and turning the pages with tears in your eyes. What a gift Ms. McMorris has and do yourself a favor, read her author note at the end of the book!
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