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The Starboard Sea Audible – Unabridged

3.7 out of 5 stars 118 customer reviews

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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I had some difficulty analyzing this coming of age story. First time author Amber Dermont spins a good story--much of this one episodic and in narrative. By that I mean, the book has a good flow and evokes the setting well. There are some wonderful passages about sailing, the ocean, nature, etc., which are clearly subjects that the author knows well and loves. Where I had some issues with the book was in its characters and overall message.

This is the tale of very wealthy--spoiled rotten, in some cases--mostly Waspy, prep school kids, often acting badly. Secondarily, it is the also the story of the parents who have spawned these kids and by their own bad behavior and criminal deeds have launched a successor generation that is likely to be more toxic than their own. So how to you generate sympathy for this kind of character? Even the book's protagonist, Jason Prosper, is just barely an exception to the generally obnoxious group that he hangs out with.

My second qualm with the book is how it raises some heavy duty subjects--coming to terms with being gay, suicide, bullying, murder/manslaughter, racism, corporate fraud, abetting serious crime by persons of authority, etc. and never really resolves any of them with any finality or sense of justice. It may well be that the author's message is that none of these issues/problems/criminal behaviors would have been resolved successfully in the time period (1980s), but that's a bit hard to swallow, even in that go-go period, even with the privileged group that is the focus of the story.

This book may have started out as a straightforward 80s coming of age story, but with the introduction of the very serious themes mentioned above, it became something quite different--much darker and much more difficult to bring to conclusion. For all of its problems, the writing in "The Starboard Sea" is insightful and even quite beautiful at times. This is an author to watch.
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Format: Hardcover
The Starboard Sea tries to do many things and doesn't fully succeed at any of them. Amber Dermont's assured writing style kept me reading to the end, but her high quality prose is largely wasted on a contrived plot. I made no intellectual or emotional connection to the story or any of its characters. The novel's first half is predictable and dull while the rest is only moderately interesting, ultimately leading to the sort of blockbuster revelations that are designed to shock. Unfortunately, since Dermont didn't convince me that the story or characters were real, the revelations did not have their intended effect. To the extent that the novel illustrates the obvious truth that people with money and power often escape the consequences of their bad behavior, the lesson is less than profound. I give Dermont credit, however, for avoiding a happy ending that might have pleased readers while making the story even less realistic.

Having been expelled from Kensington Prep, Jason Kilian Prosper spends his eighteenth birthday driving his father's Cadillac to Bellingham Academy, a school that will happily forgive his transgressions provided his father contributes to the school's building fund. Before the sun sets, Jason has a moment with a beautiful girl who is staring into the ocean. The reader knows that Jason is destined to meet her again and that she will play a significant role in the novel.

Prosper is recovering (or not) from the death of his best friend and Kensington roommate Cal. Prosper feels guilt about certain circumstances involving Cal, the sort of machination authors create to add emotional heft to a character.
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5 Comments 35 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover
What I liked the most about this book was the setting at a New England boarding school for wealthy, privileged teenagers. Just reading about the advantages these students had due to wealth and their family name was pretty fascinating reading. However, we soon learn that no amount of money can protect you from dangers.

Set in the 1980's, this is the story of Jason Prosper. He transfers to Bellingham Academy after the suicide of his close friend and sailing partner, Cal. Blaming himself for his death, Jason is unable to forgive himself or move forward. Despite being unsure about his sexuality, Jason begins a relationship with Aiden, a mysterious and troubled girl who also attends Bellingham. With her he slowly begins to deal with Cal's death.

However, Jason soon faces another tragedy which pretty much leaves him questioning everything he knows. Meanwhile he is surrounded by irresponsible, often mean spirited students who have never really had limits. This added mix of "no consequences" due to the power of class privilege makes for one great read.

I really enjoyed this book, this is a gifted writer. It all felt very authentic and look forward to more from this author.
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Format: Hardcover
We meet Jason on his 18th birthday, a hot August day spent traveling with his distant father to a new boarding school. His laments are those of the privileged- driving his father's mammoth Cadillac, worry about his future in sailing and forced camaraderie with other wealthy "screw-ups". Initially, there isn't much reason to care about Jason, and even less reason to actually feel sympathy.

That soon changes as Jason begins to peel the layers away and reveal his true self. Full of worry and shame, he vacillates between trying to be invisible and trying to be an active part of his world. He just cannot decide where he belongs...until he finds Aidan. Can he really show himself to Aidan? Does he really know who he is?

Just when you think you know where things are headed, the game changes. What was a prep school memoir becomes a quest for what is right-Jason's own starboard sea.

My verdict: Read it! Trust me, you will not want to put down this book. This is a great discussion book, as the end is (I think) a bit ambiguous. This is a book with legs, I predict you will see The Starboard Sea in a movie theater near you.
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