For more than fifteen years S.E. Hinton’s pen has been
silent. The author of THE OUTSIDERS, RUMBLE FISH, TEX and THAT WAS
THEN, THIS IS NOW has now published her first novel for an adult
audience. HAWKES HARBOR is set in a tiny seaside community in
Delaware, where Jamie Sommers, a mental patient, is treated at
Terrace View Asylum. Dr. Phillip McDevitt tries desperately to
break into Jamie's amnesia and blurred memories of the past.
Hawkes Harbor becomes the key to opening Jamie's closed mind. The
action begins in the past, in 1950, and then speeds forward to
Jamie's present in the asylum, in 1968. A bastard and orphaned,
Jamie grows up street-smart and willing to take on the entire human
race. He's a likeable young man, with a slight chip on his
shoulder. He becomes a sailor, serves a stint in the navy, and then
embarks on a series of seafaring adventures with his friend and
mentor Kell Quinn, an Irishman. Together, they set out to gather
treasure from the deep and seek fortune in daring schemes. Kell is
the architect and Jamie the workhorse.
After having been nearly eaten alive by sharks, captured by rogue
pirates and thrown in foreign prisons, Jamie and Kell attempt one
final scheme --- that of gun-running. But Kell's agenda involves
the IRA and Jamie is none the wiser. The ruse fails and they land
in a tiny waterfront community, Hawkes Harbor. Kell has come from
an educated and mannerly background and can fit in with the town's
gentry. Jamie's rough edges land him in small troubles in the town
and the two part ways.
Jamie finds work doing odd jobs for a rich family, the Hawkes, for
whom the town is named. He's fascinated by tales of treasure on the
island across from the estate where he lives. His curiosity finally
bests him. On the night Jamie ventures to the island to find and
open a large treasure chest, his life is changed forever.
Soon thereafter, he becomes the handyman and manservant for the
wealthy but mysterious Grenville Hawke, a loner who resides in the
bleak manor that overlooks the island. Subsequent chapters are a
rollercoaster ride for the reader. Jamie falls from grace into a
depressed, suicidal mental patient who is terrified of the dark,
especially at the first twilight. Years of psychotherapy do little
in breaking into Jamie's mind to calm his terrors.
Hawkes Harbor gives one hope that Jamie will break through the
curtain of darkness he has entered and tell all. But at every
opportunity, McDevitt bumps into yet another closed door. The story
is about relationships, however absurd. By the final chapter, there
was no resolution. HAWKES HARBOR is compelling because one seeks
closure to a young man's problem. I discovered none. A bizarre tale
of coercion, terror, dependence and resignation, HAWKES HARBOR will
certainly be an unusual pick for 2004.
Reviewed by Judy Gigstad on January 22, 2011