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Navigating the Darwin Straits


Navigating the Darwin Straits

I read NAVIGATING THE DARWIN STRAITS by accident. Assuming it was going to be a true adventure story, I jumped in only to discover it's a novel --- about an adolescent kid with a lesbian mother and no father. Disappointed, I thought, "Family angst can be so tiresome. I'll give it a chapter, or two..." Two chapters later, I was hooked. Forbes has created a beautiful journey of growing into adulthood, and the title fits the story perfectly.

Edith Forbes's fourth novel is the story of Jordy McNeil as told by himself. He's 4 when his single mother decides there are too many trees in Oregon and they move back to her tiny, "one computer hometown" of Kilgore. Donna's parents have never acknowledged Jordy --- his father was a one-night hookup at a frat party. Jordy is shorter than everyone else and he's nerdy; basically he's out of sync with anyone else his age in Kilgore. But, therein lies his charm. He tells his story quietly, with just the facts. There's not a hint of whining or complaining. His mother falls in love with Pat, the town's public lesbian, and he falls in love with classmate Reba, who's also a lesbian. He and Reba decide that life is so much easier if they let everyone believe they're a couple. It's heartbreaking for him, but better than being considered a total loser.

It sounds like a soap opera, but it's not. In fact, it feels extraordinarily real.

Donna is the almost typical mother, always questioning Jordy on his plans for the future. Mothers are so practical. Not taking his mother's advice of having an organized plan, Jordy heads for Seattle, where he finds a niche in a dot-com venture. When he begins to question his life and place in the world, he moves on again. Jordy stays connected to home by examining his life issues through eMail exchanges with Pat. People like Jordy, Pat, and Donna are what's right with the world. Their story leaves you with an ache to spend more time with them.

Brilliantly crafted, Edith Forbes's NAVIGATING THE DARWIN STRAITS will be on many high school reading lists. Scratch that, make it everyone's reading list.

Edith Forbes has also written ALMA ROSE, NOWLE'S PASSING, and EXIT TO REALITY.

Reviewed by Mary Louise Rohner on March 3, 2001

Navigating the Darwin Straits
by Edith Forbes

  • Publication Date: March 3, 2001
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 282 pages
  • Publisher: Seal Press
  • ISBN-10: 1580050492
  • ISBN-13: 9781580050494