What I love most about the ocean is that it can be both powerful and gentle, two sides of a coin. The same can be said about Amber Dermont's novel. Beautifully written with powerful and gentle characters, it is a great read.
Rated of 5
by Darcy C. (San Diego, CA)
Richer Isn't Always Better
I eagerly awaited this book and it did not disappoint. I love the genre of Preppy & Maladjusted & Karma Coming Around. One part of me wanted to really dislike these entitled rich kids, but the book was written so well that I really felt the emotions of Jason Prosper, the protagonist. He - for the most part - wanted to be a better person, but couldn't rise above the rich-kid-apathy in some areas of his life. I knew this was a good book because I couldn't wait to pick it up and find out what really DID happen to his love interest, Aidan. When it is revealed in the end of the story, I was not disappointed. I think Amber Dermont did a great job of closing the story and wrapping things up. This was truly an interesting and enjoyable book. I highly recommend it!!
Rated of 5
by Lynn S. (Nokomis, FL)
Familiar and Not
Very good writing...perfect book for those who only read a chapter or two a day. Though the story covers a period of time in which I lived, on the surface the story reflects a class of people and experiences foreign to my youth. The emotions portrayed, certainly not on the surface are universal. I don't consider myself a literary expert, but I keep thinking of the writing of Joyce Carol Oates. Amber Dermont is likely to bring us an extremely interesting set of characters over the next several years.
Rated of 5
by Susanne B. (Canton, OH)
The Starboard Sea
This book was well written but I had a difficult time relating to the characters and the sailing terms. Many times I was impatient with the self indulgent, spoiled characters. Ms. Dermont is a good writer and her "male" perspective was very interesting. The prep school genre has been done and I wonder how do these young people survive emotionally? Although I have a serious fear of water the sailing references were lovely. I liked the book but didn't love it. Also, I am not sure my book club would like it.
Rated of 5
by Jerry P. (Santa Rosa, CA)
The Rich are not Immune to Suffering
Amber Dermont, as other graduates of the Iowa Writers Workshop, has written a captivating first novel. I frequently reread many sentences to better digest the story and its characters. She clearly portrayed Jason Prosper's intense emotional pain, guilt and loneliness and vividly described how his self-absorbed family was clueless to his emotional pain. I cringed when I read the section where Jason's father hit him in the head with a folded copy of The Wall Street Journal as Jason was speeding on the highway.
Buried memories of my college experiences surfaced as I was reading the book. I remembered similar actions, not as intense and violent however, of fraternity brothers who had wealthy parents.
My only critcism is since I know very little about sailing and boats, I kept looking up nautical terms in the dictionary, interrupting the flow of my thought processes. I frequently regretted there was not a glossary in the back of the book and recommend one be in the next edition.
Rated of 5
by Lauren C. (Los Angeles, CA)
Nice character study
I thought the author did a good job of getting inside the thoughts of her main character. I was particularly impressed that unlike most books about teens that either have them talk and act like adults or like children, this one seems to really have captured that age (17) of being close to a young adult but not quite there. The character alternates insightful thought and considerate actions with thoughtlessness and stupidity.
This isn't a book where a lot happens, but I thought that it captured the atmosphere of a Massachusetts prep school and a kid from a dysfunctional family in New York. It kept me engaged.
Rated of 5
by Vicki H. (Greenwood Village, CO)
Not all smooth sailing
We take to the water with debut novelist Amber Dermont in The Starboard Sea, a coming-of-age novel that treats us to both the beauty of sailing and the dark side of privilege. I never tired of Dermont’s lovely homages to the wind; her protagonist Prosper reads it like prose: “You never sail with one wind. Always with three. The true, the created, and the apparent wind; the father, son, and Holy Ghost. The true wind is the one that can’t be trusted.” Indeed, as Dermont plays out the metaphor, we watch Prosper continually trim his sails to fit his new situation: he has been kicked out of one prep school (acting out after his best friend’s suicide), and is shifted to another for his senior year of high school. A few mysteries -- one of which may be murder -- keep us turning pages.
I grew weary, however, of the stereotypes; it seems every “prep school novel” comes ready-made with a cast of profligate, spoiled, rudderless rich kids. Prosper tells us, early on, “I felt myself becoming a cliché. The boy in trouble. The wealthy father. The school in need and willing to offer refuge.” Indeed, these rich boys commit horrendous acts with no conscience. The girls are glamour queens, naked beneath fur coats. (“It’s tanuki, silly. Japanese raccoon dog. Very rare. I should probably be arrested for wearing it.”) All are dissolute heirs to fortune (“…Yazid had a killer British accent, a closet full of bespoke Savile Row suits and a well-heeled cannabis habit.”) They have “prep school nicknames” (Taze, Kriffo, Race, Cakes). When the boys go to The Head of the Charles Regatta, they first cruise through a party in the penthouse of The Charles Hotel, grab Bloody Mary’s and speak to the president of Harvard, who begs one of the boys to “ditch Princeton and come to Cambridge.” They party in houses with famous paintings and sculptures, and with girls like Fernanda and Flavia, who “looked like the results of the world’s most successful genetic experiment. Each girl had caramel skin, full lips, bright blue eyes…” and “ …went to Le Rosey in Switzerland. The school of actual kings.” But even if you live in the rarefied air of East Coast and international prep schools, you will find it difficult to believe the sardonic, snappy repartee between characters is from the lips of teens. (When a white Mercedes and a driver show up for the boys, courtesy of Kriffo’s parents, Taze complains. “Thought your dad was sending a BMW. Not this pimpmobile.” Later, when the Mercedes is swapped for a black BMW, Cakes says “Nice car. Are we doing a drive-by shooting later?”)
In this episodic novel, we sail quickly from scene to scene, experiencing vandalism, awkward attempts at sex, shady Wall Street goings-on in the stock market crash of 1987, even a murder and its cover-up. I loved Dermont’s beautiful passages of wind, weather, and celestial navigation but lamented the overdrawn characters at the prep school. (Of course the dean is corrupt. Of course the local police can be bought off.) But there is enough here that is deft and skillful that when I see her name on another novel … I’ll bite.
Judge rules unused Borders gift cards to be worthless(May 23 2013) Borders owes nothing to holders of roughly $210.5 million of gift cards that had not been used by the time the bookstore chain shut down, a Manhattan federal...