As in his previous books (Shark Bait; Jungle Dogs), Salisbury navigates familiar waters those surrounding the Hawaiian Islands for a diverting and dramatic coming-of-age tale. Thirteen-year-old Mikey Donovan still can't believe he's the new deckhand on his stepfather Bill's charter boat, the Crystal-C. Mikey calls Bill "Lord of the Deep" because he believes Bill is "the best deep-sea charter-fishing skipper there was." In addition to learning fishing secrets from a master, Mikey gets to spend quality time with his mother and his younger half-brother. The idyllic working situation hits a snag, however, when two loutish adventurers hire the Crystal-C for a three-day fishing excursion to bag an impressive marlin. When a big catch suddenly becomes a possibility, Mikey faces a moral dilemma that shakes him to the core. Salisbury frames his tale within the rhythms of Mikey's island routines, carefully describing the preparations and maintenance required for a successful fishing operation and unfolding events in the span of little more than a day. He also puts readers in the middle of some thrilling sports action as the anglers try to land their prey. A subplot about Mikey's biological father is never clearly resolved, but brilliant depictions of water and sky and a number of tender moments that reveal more about Mikey, Bill and their close relationship further strengthen the story. Ages 10-up. (Aug.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
To quote KLIATT's July 2001 review of the hardcover edition: Mikey, age 13, is "the youngest full-time deckhand ever to fish the deep waters of Hawaii's Kona coast." He's happy to be helping out his stepfather, Bill, whom he worships, and he tries hard to do his best at the job, knowing that the money Bill makes from running a charter fishing boat is needed for his sickly young half-brother's medical bills. Two brothers from Colorado have hired the boat for three days, but they caught nothing on the first day, and today everyone is eager for them to land a fish. The brothers are real jerks, unfortunately, but one of them has brought along his teenaged daughter, and Alison and Mikey quickly become friendly. When one brother lands a world-record mahi-mahi, Bill goes along with his lie that he did it all by himself, to Mikey's shocked disgust. How can Mikey come to terms with Bill's acquiescence and his own conscience? Salisbury, author of award-winning YA novels such as Under the Blood-Red Sun, grew up on the Hawaiian islands and he describes being out on the waters off Hawaii in muscular, effective prose. The fishing scenes are dramatic, action-packed, and brutal, and the details of running a fishing boat are convincing. Mikey's moral dilemma is equally well portrayed, as he tries to understand Bill's motivations and find an acceptable response to the situation. Father-son issues come to the surface. This swift and often exciting read is a good choice for those who like action and adventure tales, as well as for reluctant readers, and it is sure to provoke thought and discussion. An ALA Best Book for YAs; winner of the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award. KLIATT Codes: J*—Exceptional book,recommended for junior high school students. 2001, Random House, Laurel-Leaf, 182p.,
The giant blue marlin is known as the lord of the deep, and Bill's ability to hunt and catch this amazing fish feeds his family, which includes his thirteen-year-old stepson, Mikey, the youngest charter boat deckhand in the fleet. Salisbury's story begins brilliantly, with descriptive passages of the harbor at dawn that rival Hemingway's in The Old Man and the Sea. The book then turns into a rollicking good adventure yarn, as a pair of useless tourists and a pretty teenage girl make Mikey's job aboard the boat even more exciting than usual. There is just enough romantic interest between Mikey and Allison to draw the reader's attention to Mikey's adolescent preoccupations, but for the first two-thirds of the book, readers are focused keenly on the art of big game fishingtrolling, landing dangerously toothy fish, and the diplomatic art of satisfying landlubber charter fishermen. Sadly, the final third of this otherwise superb book sinks into a shallow moral dilemma, and the story falls apart. Bill reveals a contradiction that demonstrates that he is merely human, but Mikey has so much trouble coming to grips with it that he actually jumps overboard and swims to shore. Readers who choose this book for its adventure will feel disappointed and betrayed when suddenly the weight of the mass of obligatory teenage angst falls to the deck like so much dead fish. Nevertheless this book is recommended for young adult readers who enjoy outdoor adventures, especially tales of the sea and fishing. VOYA CODES: 3Q 3P M J (Readable without serious defects; Will appeal with pushing; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2001, Delacorte, 184p, $15.95.Ages 12 to 15. Reviewer: Christopher Finer SOURCE: VOYA, August 2001 (Vol. 24, No. 3)
Any reader who enjoys edge-of-your-seat suspense and mystery will enjoy this award-winning author's latest book. Mikey is thirteen and thrilled to be a deck hand on his stepdad's charter boat. Mikey really admires his stepdad, Bill, and Bill has faith and confidence in Mikey. It is a big job, but Mikey knows he is lucky to be allowed to fish and work on Bill's boat. He gives little thought to the people who charter the boat, sometimes for days at a time. But Mikey learns there are rougher things to handle in life than his job, and one of these is the truth. The anglers who charter Bill's boat are out to catch the fish of a lifetime¾marlin, tuna, dolphin and shark. Some fisherman play by the professional game fish rules while others do not. Mikey learns lessons about people and tough choices. Author Graham Salisbury is the winner of the John Unterecker Award for fiction. This is his fifth book and it is sure to be a big hit with his fans or any reader who likes a good adventure story. 2001, Delacorte Press, $15.95. Ages 10 up. Reviewer: Sue Reichard
Gr 5-8-Salisbury's latest novel is a winning combination of riveting deep-sea fishing action, a sensitive depiction of family relationships, and an intriguing exploration of the fine line between lying and telling the truth. Mikey Donovan, 13, trusts and admires his stepdad; he even calls Bill "Lord of the Deep" because he's the best deep-sea charter-fishing skipper off the Kona Coast. But Bill has financial worries; Mikey's frail three-year-old half brother is blind, and his mother has left work to stay home with him. To economize, Bill has taken on Mikey as his deckhand, and the boy is unprepared to deal with two obnoxious customers, brothers Cal and Ernie, who charter the boat for several days. In an edge-of-your-seat scene, Ernie hooks a majestic bull mahimahi, but allows Bill to complete the difficult catch, thereby officially disqualifying himself from taking credit for the fish. To Mikey's disbelief and anger, Bill lies and signs the form certifying that Ernie brought the fish in alone. Like a skilled fisherman, Salisbury plays the intricacies of Bill's motivation and Mikey's reaction back and forth. While not providing readers with facile answers, he offers enough information about Bill's character and situation to account for his falsifying the record. Though Ernie and Cal seem too awful to be true, they serve a legitimate purpose in the plot. Cal's sensitive, artistic daughter acts as both a counterbalance to her father and uncle, and as a first romantic encounter for Mikey. With its vivid Hawaiian setting, this fine novel is a natural for book-discussion groups that enjoy pondering moral ambiguity. Its action-packed scenes will also lure in reluctant readers.-Caroline Ward, The Ferguson Library, Stamford, CT Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Hero-worship comes face to face with human reality in this coming-of-age tale set in Hawaii. Thirteen-year-old Mikey's father ran out on him before he was even born, so when his stepfather Bill came along five years ago, he was more than ready for a father. There is nothing he wants more than to grow up to be just like Bill, so when Bill is forced to let the deckhand on his charter fishing boat go, Mikey jumps at the opportunity to help out. A day on the water with two loutish tourists and a beautiful 16-year-old girl changes everything. Salisbury ("Jungle Dogs", 1998, etc.) effectively takes the reader to the scene, presenting a tiny, temporary microculture in which the power relationships among the characters are laid out starkly against the sparkling blue tropical sea. Bad fishing luck, Mikey's critical mistake in fouling the line when a marlin is hooked, and a series of humiliations at the hands of the boat's clients culminate in Bill's betrayal of the sport fishing code-and the revelation of his feet of clay to Mikey. The language couldn't be more evocative: "The ocean rushed into his ears, his nose, the warm watery pressure of a billion miles of sea pressing in on every inch of his body." The rhythm of the text parallels the fishing trip-reflective and almost somnolent in between bites, punctuated by heart-stopping action when a fish is on the line. The tightly-focused narration allows Mikey's emotions full play but hinders the full development of the secondary characters-in particular Alison, the daughter of one of the louts, who acts mostly as a sounding board for Mikey but whose own emotions and motivations remain somewhat enigmatic. This is a small quibble; as anexploration of one boy's conflicted feelings about fatherhood and his own impending manhood, this novel delivers beautifully. "(Fiction. 10-14)"