Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Book Review: "The Starboard Sea" by Amber Dermont

When I finish certain books, I'm sad that they're over but feel fulfilled by the chance to have read them. Amber Dermont's debut novel, The Starboard Sea, is one of those books. I couldn't stop myself from wanting to race through the entire book, but tried in vain to slow down as the end approached, because I wanted to prolong the story and see what came next for the characters.

It's 1987, just before the stock market crash. Jason Prosper is a rich high school senior from New York City, raised with all of the benefits a wealthy family can offer. After getting kicked out of his prep school following the suicide of his best friend and roommate, Cal, Jason winds up at Bellingham, a boarding school for many "second chance" kids of privilege. Struggling with Cal's memory and guilt over his death, Jason finds himself drawn to Aidan, a student with her own troubled past. The two begin to let their guards down and confide in one another. And then one night, when a hurricane hits New England, everything goes awry, leaving Jason to once again pick up the pieces, and he discovers just what privilege can do—and what it can't.

At first, I thought I wouldn't enjoy this book because I couldn't identify with rich, reckless high school students used to getting everything they wanted and living lives I could only imagine. But Dermont's development of the characters, even those who seemed on the surface like nothing more than rich kid stereotypes, is very complex, and she really draws you into all that Jason is struggling with. I honestly could have spent another few hundred pages watching what happened next with the characters once they left Bellingham and seeing what direction Jason's life took, and that, to me, is the mark of a fantastic book. Dermont is a really terrific writer and I can't wait to see what she does next!

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