A powerful first novel about life and death, friendship and love, as one young man must navigate the depths of his emotions.
Jason Prosper grew up in the elite world of Manhattan penthouses, Maine summer estates, old-boy prep schools, and exclusive sailing clubs. A smart, athletic teenager, Jason maintains a healthy, humorous disdain for the trappings of affluence, preferring to spend afternoons sailing with Cal, his best friend and boarding-school roommate. When Cal commits suicide during their junior year at Kensington Prep, Jason is devastated by the loss and transfers to Bellingham Academy. There, he meets Aidan, a fellow student with her own troubled past. They embark on a tender, awkward, deeply emotional relationship.
When a major hurricane hits the New England coast, the destruction it causes brings with it another upheaval in Jason's life, forcing him to make sense of a terrible secret that has been buried by the boys he considers his friends.
Set against the backdrop of the 1987 stock market collapse, The Starboard Sea is an examination of the abuses of class privilege, the mutability of sexual desire, the thrill and risk of competitive sailing, and the adult cost of teenage recklessness. It is a powerful and provocative novel about a young man finding his moral center, trying to forgive himself, and accepting the gift of love.
Published in hardcover in Feb 2012
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Dermont's prose glides across the ocean ... It doesn't matter if you don't know a spindrift from a seaboard - the language of sailing is lovely, both simple and elaborate, unexpectedly sexy and inexhaustibly metaphorical. [A]fter all its treachery and recriminations, The Starboard Sea is a novel about the exhilarating freedom of being young and in love with the world, in harmony with nature and with an irreplaceable friend." - New York Times Book Review, Eleanor Henderson
"The Starboard Sea is a touching, beautiful, and deeply wise novel, a hymn to the bittersweet glories of youth. You will be enthralled." - Justin Cronin, New York Times bestselling author of The Passage
"Vividly written. Dermont shows real spark in her sensual descriptions of sailing and her realistic depiction of the malevolent dynamics among sophisticated teens...." - Booklist
"Preppy murder mystery meets coming-of-age story - with lots of sailing." - Kirkus Reviews
"Insights are limited by Dermont's unconditional sympathy for even the cruelest characters, amounting to a reprieve for the poor little rich kids, whose spiritual loneliness redeems their offenses, no matter how grave." - Publishers Weekly
"With unflinching wit, Amber Dermont examines the harsh vicissitudes of life, and though the worlds she creates are often unsettling places, her sense of detail always makes for a pleasurable read. There is a vibrant lucidity to her language, a daring music Her characters are simultaneously able to articulate their pain, pass judgment on their own behavior and pardon themselves for their transgressions." - Marilynne Robinson, Pulitzer Prize and Orange Prize winning author of Gilead and Home
"In this affecting debut novel, Amber Dermont reveals herself as a writer of striking and abundant talent, sounding the depths of her narrator through his actions, yes, but even more so through the rhythms of his mind, so that you truly feel as if you are inhabiting his life along with him." - Kevin Brockmeier, author of The Illumination and The Brief History of the Dead
"Amber Dermont's beautiful first novel explores just what it should: the dangers and joys of emergence into adulthood. Dermont has an extraordinarily observant eye and an elegant voice, and she illuminates particular aspects of her world - sailing, gender, class - with intelligence and compassion. Brava for this impressive debut." - Roxana Robinson, author of Cost and Sweetwater
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Amber Dermont received her MFA in fiction from the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. Her short stories have appeared in numerous literary magazines and anthologies, including Dave Eggers's Best American Nonrequired Reading 2005, Francis Ford Coppola's Zoetrope: All-Story, and Jane Smiley's Best New American Voices 2006. A graduate of Vassar College, she received her Ph.D. in creative writing and literature from the University of Houston. She currently serves as an associate professor of English and creative writing at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia.
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