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The Starboard Sea
by Amber Dermont

Overview -

"A rich, quietly artful novel that is bound for deep water, with questions of beauty, power and spiritual navigation as its main concerns. The title refers not to the right side of a boat but to the right course through life, and the immense difficulty of finding and following it."--Janet Maslin, "The New York Times"

A powerful first novel about life and death, friendship and love, as one young man must navigate the depths of his emotions.  Read more...


 
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More About The Starboard Sea by Amber Dermont
 
 
 
Overview

"A rich, quietly artful novel that is bound for deep water, with questions of beauty, power and spiritual navigation as its main concerns. The title refers not to the right side of a boat but to the right course through life, and the immense difficulty of finding and following it."--Janet Maslin, "The New York Times"

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.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780312642808
  • ISBN-10: 0312642806
  • Publisher: St Martins Pr
  • Publish Date: February 2012
  • Page Count: 310


Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Literary
Books > Fiction > Coming of Age

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2011-11-21
  • Reviewer: Staff

An anemic coming-of-age story about a sexually confused teenager learning to negotiate a Reagan-era world of material excess and unchecked freedoms sums up Dermont’s debut novel. Reeling from the suicide of Cal, his sailing partner and first love, Jason Prosper is sent to Bellingham, a laissez-faire East Coast boarding school that caters to entitled delinquents. There, he befriends Aidan, an ethereal social misfit and daughter of a Hollywood ingénue, who helps him come to terms with Cal’s death. However, Jason also takes up with a fraternity of pranksters, whose menacing antics are ignored by the school’s money-grubbing administration. After Aidan dies mysteriously during a hurricane, Jason must face the truth about his new friends and school. Though Dermont is a competent storyteller, the novel often feels like little more than a series of anecdotes about privilege and impunity, with Jason’s search for justice relegated to an extracurricular event taking place between regattas and drug-fueled blowouts. 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. Agent: Inkwell Management. (Mar.)

 
BookPage Reviews

Growing up beautiful and damned

The privileged and insular society of an Eastern prep school in the 1980s is unveiled and brought vividly to life in Amber Dermont’s emotionally rich debut novel.

Jason Prosper has been banned from Kensington, his parents’ prep school of choice, and is now beginning his senior year at Bellingham Academy—where students who have been “kicked out of better schools for stealing, or having sex, or smoking weed” end up. As Jason walks out of his Manhattan penthouse in September, he realizes the only person he will miss is his doorman. Jason’s father, who looks “more like a member of the British House of Lords” than a dad, drops him off. It’s clear that he cares less about Jason’s happiness than he does about his possible acceptance to Princeton at year’s end.

Enter the privileged, insular world of an East Coast prep school in this sensitively wrought debut.

Dermont gradually reveals Jason’s devastation and guilt over the suicide junior year of Cal, his best friend and sailing partner at Kensington. At Bellingham he reconnects with sons of his parents’ friends from the past—New England boarding schools being a “small, incestuous world” where everyone knows whose money is oldest, and who vacations in St. Moritz or Tuscany. Though Jason bonds with this predictable mélange of jocks and the sons of investment bankers and fund managers (it’s 1987, and Black Monday looms), he remains as aloof as possible, comparing them to Cal, and hesitant to get close to someone he might lose. He meets Aidan, a girl who’s also carrying troubling baggage to Bellingham, and they forge a special relationship—tentative at first, but gradually deepening as they learn to trust one another with painful secrets from their pasts.

At this point, Dermont injects a third element into her tale of coming-of-age in the land of the wealthy—a mystery surrounding the discovery of Aidan’s body on the beach after a violent storm. It’s first ruled an accident, then announced by the dean as suicide—but Jason begins putting together the pieces from that night which lead to a far different verdict—one that involves his so-called friends.

Dermont writes beautifully—about the sea and sailing, about her diverse characters and about the youthful pain of love lost.

 
BAM Customer Reviews

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