From School Library Journal
Grade 9 Up-In 1967, the wreck Amaryllis creates perfect waves off Singer Island, FL, for surfers Frank and Jimmy Staples. The Vietnam War, however, looms on the horizon, and 18-year-old Frank enlists in order to escape his abusive father. Over the course of a year, he sends his younger brother letters from overseas. He becomes a heroin addict while recovering from a bullet wound, but Jimmy keeps this horrifying discovery from their parents. Finally, in the fall of 1968, Frank is listed as missing in action. Jimmy, heartbroken, lashes out and blames his father but eventually realizes there are no easy answers in life. Crist-Evans has written an interesting, although somber, account of a troubled family in emotional turmoil. Both teens are believable and likable characters with whom many young adults will identify. Frank's letters are fascinating and disturbing, and his descent into drug addiction is harrowing. However, the author does not fully explore or expand on the symbolism of the ship in his story. Otherwise, this is a crisply written and a worthwhile addition to fiction collections.Robert Gray, East Central Regional Library, Cambridge, MN
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Gr. 7-12. Jeremy knows that his beloved 18-year-old brother, Frank, joined up to fight in Vietnam only to get away from the war with Dad at home. Now Frank's letters reveal that he doesn't know what he's fighting for, and in his guilt and despair, he is struggling with a heroin addiction. Frank's deepest longing is to be back surfing the waves with Jeremy near their Florida home. The metaphors are too heavily spelled out not only in the battles at home but also in the title (the Amaryllis
was a great ship wrecked by a hurricane near the Florida shore), which symbolizes Frank's wrecked life. What succeeds is the family story, especially because Dad isn't demonized. His dark alcoholic rages have driven Frank away, and he knows it; his guilt and sorrow when Frank goes missing are heartbreaking. The narrative is plain and powerful, whether it's about the close bond between the brothers, the horror of the jungle warfare, or the memory of riding the crest of the perfect wave. Hazel RochmanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved