Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Every Boat Turns South

This book is an enigma. It is a cross between Ordinary People, Prodigal Son, Crime and Punishment, Miama Vice, Ernest Hemingway, and Robert Frost. Matt Younger is the son of a sailor that he calls Skip. Matt's been M.I.A. for the last three years but comes home in time for a cleansing of his soul as he confesses all at his father's deathbed.

Always playing second fiddle to his older brother, the Golden Child, Matt was the last person to see his brother, Hale, alive. In their teens, they boarded a boat and only one returned. Obviously, not the one for whom the sun rose and set. The parents and brother distraught, they drifted apart and dealt with the loss differently. Both parents blamed Matt for Hale's death. Matt carried Hale's secrets and kept them from his parents and the world.

Matt drops out of high school and uses his sailing skills to make money. He ends up being hired to sail a boat to St. Thomas so Sam Wells, a faceless victim (in the beginning) could bring his wife to cavort. The winds blowing just so and Matt still pretty full of stupid, he ends up retrieving a whole mess of cocaine, picking up a crew he probably shouldn't have, and getting stranded on Dominican Republic running into all kinds of trouble there.

The story is complex and metaphorical. J.P. White is a prolific poet who can describe the beauty of the Carribean, the islands, women, men, sailboats, and trade winds in explicit detail. Although enjoyable mental images, I found myself re-reading passages to discern whether I was to interpret something metaphorically or literally. I think some of that vagueness (maybe all?) was a planned part of the author's experience.

The author contrasts the beauty of the Carribean with the violence, poverty, and world of crime on the same islands. Prostitution, drug running, murder, bribery, blackmail are in strong contrast to the paradisaical setting. Woven into the story is the human experiences of love, loss, death and dying. The author explores the act of dying, the slow, laborious process, denial, acceptance, and love.

It is poetry.

I have 1 copy. Who wants it? 
Comment with email.
Contest ends June 30, 2010

The Federal Trade Commission wants me to tell you that I received a copy of this book from Pump Up Your Book in return for an honest review. Thanks, Dorothy!

12 comments:

Bookventures said...

This is a great review.

I read this book too and i am going to review it at the end of the week. I thought that i was able to identify with this book more because i actually live in the caribbean so many of the references made in the book was very familiar. Good luck with the contest : )

Riahli said...

Wow, sounds intense. the_rivers@verizon.net

CountessLaurie said...

Hmmm, if you were re-reading passages, I would have to read the whole thing twice... but I am now curious how it all played out with the brothers...

Amy said...

I have read few books set in the Caribbean. How interesting.

amymorrowinafrica@gmail.com

Atypical Girl said...

Well, I *do* like boat books and this one sounds fascinating!

Amy S.
artsyrockerchick at aim dot com

Katia said...

This might be the closest I'm ever going to get to the Caribbean.
kr_moreau(at)doglover(dot)com

Cass said...

Wow this book sounds deep and thoroughly intriguing. There's a whole lot of great themes/settings/characters, by the looks of things. I'd love to read it!

cc932005[at]hotmail[dot]com

Jenny said...

I'd love to read this! Thanks for the chance to win!

jenny.maurer84 at gmail dot com

Terrymac said...

I do! I do! I do!

Your review of Every Boat Turns South has me captured! It sounds like a terrific must read!

Thank you for hosting this giveaway.

terrymac1a at hotmail dot com

Joan said...

Sounds like it is right up my alley. I would love the book.
jomarcho1@aol.com

Ginny said...

Great review, makes me want to pick it up & read. Thanks!

skkorman said...

I would love to read this book—please enter me to win!

skkorman AT bellsouth DOT net