The Boat of Dreams: A Christmas Story

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Overview

In 1969, William Foster, Sr., a thirty-three-year-old army reserve soldier, is lost in action in Vietnam. He leaves behind his beloved wife, Sarah Ann; a six-year-old daughter, Lila; and a thirteen-year-old son, Will, Jr. They live in a trailer on the coast of Maine, and parked beside the trailer is their father's beautiful but unreliable lobster boat, the Sarah Ann. The Sarah Ann's graceful curves and beautiful wood are a painful daily reminder of Will Sr.'s plans and dreams --...
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Overview

In 1969, William Foster, Sr., a thirty-three-year-old army reserve soldier, is lost in action in Vietnam. He leaves behind his beloved wife, Sarah Ann; a six-year-old daughter, Lila; and a thirteen-year-old son, Will, Jr. They live in a trailer on the coast of Maine, and parked beside the trailer is their father's beautiful but unreliable lobster boat, the Sarah Ann. The Sarah Ann's graceful curves and beautiful wood are a painful daily reminder of Will Sr.'s plans and dreams -- dreams now lost with him.

The December afternoons are lonely and dark for Lila and Will, who must come home alone from school while their mother works. They get scared when they find evidence that someone has been visiting the trailer, and when they come home to find a rugged, cantankerous, somewhat smelly old man watching TV, it takes them a while to realize he's...Santa Claus.

What Santa does with the lobster boat and how he handles Will's one and only Christmas dream -- to have his dad back -- is the story of The Boat of Dreams. It brings laughter, surprises, and tears and tells through an unforgettable story how love is the one power that can overcome all.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The gloomy days of a Maine winter seem colder and darker for Will Jr., Lila and their mother, Sarah Ann, as Christmas 1969 approaches-the first without their dad, a lobsterman, who was sent to Vietnam the year before and lost in action. Practically penniless, Sarah Ann refuses to sell the lobster boat her husband named for her-the family's one valuable possession-and instead scrapes by working at a local supermarket. Alone in their trailer after school each evening, the children are visited by Santa's surly specter: a beer-guzzling, B.O.-ridden ghost who camps out in their recliner to watch afternoon soap operas and showers in vain to remove his otherworldly stench. Sleighless and no longer capable of bringing physical gifts to the world's children after an unfortunate collision with the Hoover Dam, Santa's spirit enlists Will and Lila to help spread Christmas dreams with their dad's old boat and confront their own loss. Free of the usual holiday sugar overdose, Preston's inventive, droll story was originally written for a friend who was dying of breast cancer; a portion of the book's proceeds will go toward cancer research. (Nov.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743245920
  • Publisher: Touchstone
  • Publication date: 11/1/2003
  • Pages: 128
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Preston
Richard Preston is the bestselling author of The Hot Zone, The Demon in the Freezer, and The Cobra Event. He has been a contributor to The New Yorker since 1985 and lives near New York City.

Biography

Richard Preston is a versatile and unique writer. He's penned nonfiction and fiction, both to popular and critical acclaim. A frequent contributor to The New Yorker, he's written books about the vast intricacies and limitlessness of outer space; about microscopic, infinitely complex and deadly viruses; and—well before September 11—about the all-too-real threat of biological terrorism.

Preston is best known for creating a media frenzy and subsequent shockwave of terror in 1994 with his critically acclaimed, No. 1 New York Times bestseller, The Hot Zone. In a gripping, narrative style, The Hot Zone, relates a gripping true tale: In late 1989 in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., strands of the Ebola virus were found in the carcass of recently imported monkey from Africa. The book recounts the heroic efforts of soldiers and scientists as they attempted to avert a deadly outbreak of the virus, which is highly contagious and reputedly kills 90 percent of those it infects. Stephen King called it "one of the most horrifying things I've ever read."

The Hot Zone succeeded, not solely because the story was infectiously compelling and masterfully told, but because it was chilling to the bone. People were genuinely frightened. Everyone wanted to know, "Can this actually happen?" and "Are we really prepared if it does?"

Preston's next project, The Cobra Event, still has readers asking these same questions. The amazing achievement here: It's a work of fiction. About a biological terror attack on New York City, the plausibility of such a scenario is now, in our post-9/11 world, even more believable and scary. In fact, when then-President Bill Clinton read The Cobra Event, he was horrified. The New York Times reported: "Mr. Clinton was so alarmed by The Cobra Event that he instructed intelligence experts to evaluate its credibility." Preston recalled in a magazine interview: "So I get this frantic series of calls on my answering machine; 'Newt Gingrich is trying to reach you. He's been instructed by the President to call you and get your advice.' So I think, right, sure. But I end up talking with Gingrich for quite some time about biological terrorism." Preston has since appeared before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Technology, Terrorism & Government Information and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on Chemical and Biological Weapons Threats to America.

Of The Cobra Event,Newsweek wrote, "…Preston has inadvertently created a new hybrid of fact and fiction…" Inadvertent or not, Preston's almost indistinguishable blending of fact and fiction makes for a great read. Like his nonfiction, the characters are highly developed and the pacing is swift. And the fear factor: intense long after the last page is read.

Like fellow nonfiction writers Mark Bowden (Black Hawk Down) and Jon Krakauer (Into Thin Air) and novelist Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park, Timeline, etc.), Preston has perfected the art of character. Science provides the backdrop to his work, but it never gets in the way of the story. After all, he's not a scientist. "I'm a writer, pure and simple," Preston once said. "I write about people."

Good To Know

An asteroid is named after Richard Preston. Called Asteroid Preston, it is approximately 3-5 miles across, and could actually collide with Mars—or Earth!—in approximately 100,00 years.

The Hot Zone inspired the 1995 hit movie Outbreak, which attracted an all-star cast led by Dustin Hoffman, Rene Russo, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Spacey, Cuba Gooding, Jr., and Donald Sutherland. The actual film version of Preston's book never got made; it stalled, and the competing project that became Outbreak was the one that made it to theaters.

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    1. Hometown:
      Hopewell, New Jersey
    1. Date of Birth:
      August 5, 1954
    2. Place of Birth:
      Cambridge, Massachusetts
    1. Education:
      B.A., Pomona College, 1976; Ph.D. in English, Princeton University, 1983
    2. Website:

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 30, 2009

    Absolute fun....

    This book is amazing. I'm 63, been there and done that, as cynical as they come, but this book filled me with that old time Christmas spirit and wonder that I'd hoped I hadn't lost and now I know I haven't. If this doesn't get made into a movie, millions of people will be missing out on a wonderful story. Read it now.

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