Every Boat Turns South

Every Boat Turns South

4.0 2
by J. P. White

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

This stylish debut novel from poet White (The Salt Hour) brings to mind John D. MacDonald's Florida noirs, but with a modern sensibility. In 1983, after a three-year absence, high school dropout Matt Younger, 30, returns to his parents' cottage on Amelia Island, Fla. The family's discontent stems from the earlier drowning of Matt's older brother, Hale, the "family god." Matt's father, Jack, is dying of congestive heart failure while his mother, Emily, is exhausted from around-the-clock caregiving. Relieving his mother, Matt updates Jack on his shady adventures as the self-styled "king of all sailing fools." Working as a skipper, Matt was hired to pilot a boat from Florida to St. Thomas and en route takes up cocaine running for drug lord Jimmy Q, eventually stealing $2 million worth of coke. But when he docks in the Dominican Republic for repairs, his real troubles begin, in the form of deliciously nasty femme fatale Jesse Dove and Matt's love interest, local hooker Rosario Estrella. White's vivid prose, layered plot line and detailed acumen of Caribbean sailing all boost his impressive yarn above run-of-the-mill noirs. (Sept.)

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Kirkus Reviews
Boy meets boat; boy meets girl; boy meets another girl; boy meets cocaine; boy loses boat-it's complicated . . . Matt Younger is the kind of guy trouble seeks out, owing mainly to his unusual and adventurous choices. After a 13-year hiatus from home, he's come back in a confessional mode. He wants to tell his dying father Skip about his adventures during this time, but also about his complicity in the drowning of older brother Hale, a golden boy, star athlete and potential Olympian who had an untamed side of which their parents were ignorant. Skip is on his deathbed, and Matt takes over his mother's duties as night nurse. The narrative alternates between Matt's solicitude for his unforgiving (and semi-conscious) father and flashbacks to the period after he dropped out of high school in the wake of Hale's death. Sailing Sam Wells' 40-foot trimaran Stardust from Key West to St. Thomas, Matt gets stranded in the Turks and Caicos; he misses the Trades shift by one day, and the intractable winds are likely to keep him there for several months. About this time he encounters two characters who will irrevocably alter his life: cocaine dealer Jimmy Q and femme fatale Jenny. Jimmy Q persuades Matt to do an "easy" cocaine pickup, but Matt plans a complicated and dangerous hat trick to double-cross Jimmy Q, steal the cocaine and also steal Sam's boat. To muddle things still further, Matt then meets and falls in love with Rosario, who has an unknown agenda of her own. Metaphorically caught between two women, he winds up getting literally caught by a corrupt comandante in the Dominican Republic. White rings some compelling changes in a convoluted tale that leads to Matt's redemption.

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Product Details

Permanent Press, The
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.60(h) x 0.90(d)

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Every Boat Turns South 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Bookventures More than 1 year ago
Every Boat turns south is a good story. The characters are original and they help to enhance the story. It's kind of hard to have a favorite when they all supported the story so well. I felt really comfortable reading this book because it was set in the Caribbean (which is where I am from) so I found that many of the references the author made was easy for me to identify with. His plethora of references also made me realize that White spent some time doing his research. It is also very clear that White is a great writer. He is vivid and imaginative and he uses his words cleverly to evoke just the right emotion for the readers. I enjoyed his writing because he makes you almost want to read on in anticipation of the conclusion. Every Boat Turns South is fashioned on some great contemporary works and succeeds to some extend which is admirable for a debut novelist. A prime example of this was in some of the themes raised. For example, the prodigal son Matt is racing against time to return to his father's death bed so that he can explain what really happened to his brother. The whole act was one that symbolized a sort of cleansing for Matt; after living in the shadow of his brother while he was alive and even in death, this release meant that he could finally begin to live his own life. This theme is also present in Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller. Having said that all of that, there were times when the book was really slow and a bit boring. In addition there was a little too much sailing jargon that just flew over my head and admittedly did not allow me to experience the novel to its fullest. While I liked the story, I am not entirely sure that I would read it a second time. I stand to be corrected though.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago