Endearing Characters and a Heartwarming Story of Family in Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt

Remarkably Bright Creatures

Live Interview and Q & A with Shelby Van Pelt…

Book Nation Book Club welcomed Shelby Van Pelt to discuss her debut novel, Remarkably Bright Creatures and you can find it all RIGHT HERE!


I never expected it, but I fell in love with an octopus! In Remarkably Bright Creatures, author Shelby Van Pelt writes something fresh and beautiful, a friendship between Tova, an older woman heading to a retirement facility, and Marcellus, an octopus nearing the end of his lifespan living in a tank at the Sowell Bay Aquarium. Tova’s teenage son went missing many years ago and recently she lost her husband. Now around 70 and thinking about her future, she took a night job cleaning at the aquarium. Here is where she develops an unusual relationship with the aging cephalopod. But Tova gets injured at work and has to take some time off to heal.

Cameron, a young man abandoned by his single mother when he was a child, has not had much success in his life. In his 20s and with plans to start fresh, he ventures to the town where his absent mother grew up to look for his father. This search for a man he never met brings him to Sowell Bay where he takes a temporary job at the aquarium. Here is where he begins to create a new life, uncover his potential, make friends and discover family.

I was surprised at how much I adored this book! I shed tears over the relationships that were discovered and lost, and delighted in the connections between the humans and one special octopus. Tova, Cameron and Marcellus each have meaningful personal journeys and their lives come together at the Sowell Bay Aquarium and intertwine in a magical way. Remarkably Bright Creatures not only has that unique imagined animal perspective developed by the author, but brilliant storytelling that evokes emotion – from tears to laughter. This was a Read With Jenna pick and I highly recommend it, as well! My new favorite recommendation!

One More Thing!

I’ve always found stories focused on animals endearing (books like Charlotte’s Web, The Art of Racing in the Rain, tv shows like Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp from the 1970s and movies like and Finding Nemo). They are always fun, but some can be educational, too. If you haven’t have a chance to watch the documentary called My Octopus Teacher on Netflix, check it out! The more you know about the octopus, the more you love!

Shelby Van Pelt

About the Author:

Shelby Van Pelt’s debut novel, REMARKABLY BRIGHT CREATURES, was published by Ecco/HarperCollins (US) and Bloomsbury (UK) in Spring 2022.

Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, she’s now missing the mountains in the Chicago area with her husband and two children.

More great books with animals at the forefront….

The Friend

The Friend by Sigrid Nunez

Once There Were Wolves

Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy

Other People's Pets

Other People’s Pets by RL Maizes

Book Nation by Jen


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