Safe from the Sea
Published by Unbridled Books
FTC disclosurey statement-thingie: I checked this book out from the library. I know! I was surprised, too.
Synopsis (lifted from B&N…god, I love cut and paste):
Set against the powerful lakeshore landscape of northern Minnesota, Safe from the Sea is a heartfelt novel in which a son returns home to reconnect with his estranged and dying father thirty-five years after the tragic wreck of a Great Lakes ore boat that the father only partially survived and that has divided them emotionally ever since.* When his father for the first time finally tells the story of the horrific disaster he has carried with him so long, it leads the two men to reconsider each other.
Meanwhile, Noah’s own struggle to make a life with an absent father has found its real reward in his relationship with his sagacious wife, Natalie, whose complications with infertility issues have marked her husband’s life in ways he only fully realizes as the reconciliation with his father takes shape.
Peter Geye has delivered an archetypal story of a father and son, of the tug and pull of family bonds, of Norwegian immigrant culture, of dramatic shipwrecks and the business and adventure of Great Lakes shipping in a setting that simply casts a spell over the characters as well as the reader.
I am absolutely not a fan of sinking ships or stories about sinking ships. The thought gives me the willies. For this reason, I refused to see Titanicin theatres (although it’s been hard to avoid on tv). Besides, we all know what happens at the end…the boat sinks and lots of people die. Why would I want to watch a movie about that?
So, given my feelings about sinking ships, I was surprised that I ended up loving this book. Which is good news for the book, since it’s one of the books on the short list for Literary Fiction in the Indie Lit Awards. Had it not been nominated, I doubt I ever would’ve read it, and that would’ve been a sad thing.
The strength in this book is the characters. Well, and the writing. Okay, and the story, too. But Geye really brought the characters to life. I could just picture crusty old Olaf, shivering in his union suit as he lay dying. I could also picture him as the weathered sailor on the sinking ship. He may have not been up for any father of the year awards, but it was interesting to watch him revisit his past and admit his mistakes to his son. And to see the son finally understand the father. And while I originally thought Natalie was a single-minded bitch, she grew on me, too.
And yes, I’ll admit, the story of the sinking ship sucked me in, too. This does not mean I’m going to read The Perfect Storm, though. No way, no how.
*This sentence cracks me up. It’s like the entire book in one run-on sentence.