From Publishers Weekly
To tell a classic, if overwrought bildungsroman—complete with teenage boy, quiet younger brother, alcoholic father, possibly cheating mother and a boat—Brewer returns to Fairhope, Ala., the setting of his 2005 debut, The Poet of Tolstoy Park
. As WWII rages in Europe (Pearl Harbor is still a sleepy navy outpost), 16-year-old Rove MacNee's Granny Wooten, who always gave him "the right book at the right time," dies. On the day of her funeral, Rove witnesses his violent, alcoholic father, ship captain Dominus MacNee, threatening his German neighbor, Josef Unruh, with a knife. Soon, Dominus, a locally notorious philanderer, is in jail on attempted murder charges, leaving Rove to figure out whether his mother, Lillian, is having an affair with Josef. As Rove tumbles out of childhood, Josef offers him a fixer-upper boat, and Rove goes to live on it, taking comfort in his family's tradition of fishing, sailing and living on the sea. Though the story can buckle beneath the weight of its sentimentality, Brewer's fans will enjoy his graceful crafting of characters and the budding romance between Rove and Anna Pearl, a schoolmate with a "fire-bearing spirit." (On sale Aug. 1)
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Like his first novel, The Poet of Tolstoy Park
(2005), bookseller Brewer's second is also set in Fairhope, Alabama, a small town on the Gulf Coast. This time the year is 1941, and 16-year-old Rove MacNee, son of Dominus MacNee, captain of a 50-foot melon schooner, is worried that his father's animosity toward a local German American might turn deadly. Of course, war is in the air, but the intensity of the captain's hatred seems to transcend even rabid patriotism. Before the year is out Rove will discover the roots of his hard-drinking father's ill will, but in the meantime, he's busy refurbishing his own boat and musing about joining the navy. Brewer is at his eloquent best when he's writing with obvious affection about his setting and about sailing. He's at his worst when he slips into windy philosophizing and self-consciously "beautiful" prose. Fortunately there's enough of the former to excuse the worst of the latter. Michael CartCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved