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The Starboard Sea Bets On...

The Starboard Sea

March 2012

Money does not buy happiness. Just ask Jason Prosper, the protagonist in THE STARBOARD SEA, a debut novel from Amber Dermont.  As the book opens, Jason is on his way to yet another prep school, this time Bellingham Academy. The school is not prestigious and storied, but rather for wealthy offspring who need second chances. And Jason needs just that ---  a chance to start fresh.

While this is a coming-of-age story fraught with the loneliness of spinning alone in a world where parents write checks instead of taking the time to talk, it’s also a carefully plotted reveal. From the start, readers wonder about Jason’s past with his pal, Cal. We know that Cal has died…and he and Jason were sailing partners. From there, Dermont carefully harnesses reader attention with the same kind of tension that one sees in a sail, pulling the story tight and then allowing it to billow as more details unfold.

There are so many sailing metaphors, and clearly those who sail will appreciate them even more than me, who still cannot remember the difference between stern and bow and who was regularly clocked in the head on our catamaran as I failed to duck when hearing the call “coming about.” Also, while it’s set in 1987, it could take place in 2012; no matter what year it is, adolescence, when you are pretty much on your own, is pretty tough stuff.  

There’s lots of posh life, with my favorite being the way the kids charted what the parents would get in the divorce. The ski house, the Caribbean house…and how everyone knew everyone else’s business and never let on!

The entire time I was reading, I was trying to figure out what the starboard sea is --- perhaps what it meant in nautical lore. I did not find out until I was almost at the end, and I flagged that page for this Bets On piece. “It means the right sea, the true sea, or like finding the best paths in life.”

By the way, teens, twentysomethings and adults all will find something in THE STARBOARD SEA….and it’s definitely book group discussable.

The Starboard Sea
by Amber Dermont

  • Publication Date: January 29, 2013
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
  • ISBN-10: 1250023432
  • ISBN-13: 9781250023438