Author: Perry Chafe
Published by: Scribner on May 23, 2023
Format: ARC, Paperback
Source: Simon & Schuster Canada
Book Rating: 8.5/10
From the writer and producer of the hit TV shows Republic of Doyle and Son of a Critch , a poignant coming-of-age debut novel about the mysterious disappearance of a young girl and the fragility of childhood bonds, set against the backdrop of a small island community adapting to an ever-changing landscape.
In 1991, on a small, isolated island off the coast of Newfoundland, twelve-year-old Pierce Jacobs struggles to come to terms with the death of his father. It’s been three years since his dad, a fisherman, disappeared in the cold, unforgiving Atlantic, his body never recovered. Pierce is determined to save enough money to fix his father’s old boat and take it out to sea. But life on the island is quiet and hard. The local fishing industry is on the brink of collapse, threatening to take an ages-old way of life with it. The community is hit even harder when a young teen named Anna Tessier goes missing.
With the help of his three friends, Pierce sets out to find Anna, with whom he shared an unusual but special bond. They soon cross paths with Solomon Vickers, a mysterious, hermetic fisherman who may have something to do with the missing girl. Their search brings them into contact with unrelenting bullies, magnificent sea creatures, fierce storms, and glacial giants. But most of all, it brings them closer to the brutal reality of both the natural and the modern world.
Part coming-of-age story, part literary mystery, and part suspense thriller, Closer by Sea is a page-turning, poignant, and powerful novel about family, friendship, and community set at a pivotal time in modern Newfoundland history. It is an homage to a people and a place, and above all it captures that delicate and tender moment when the wonder of childhood innocence gives way to the harsh awakening of adult experience.
Atmospheric, mysterious, and immersive!
Closer by Sea is a captivating, poignant tale that sweeps you away to Perigo Island just off the coast of Newfoundland and into the life of twelve-year-old Pierce Jacobs as he spends one summer in 1991 hanging with friends, making a little extra money cutting out cod tongues and selling them to tourists, saving up everything he can to repair his late father’s fishing boat, coming to grips with the disappearance of a young girl he slightly knew, and secretly investigating the old, reclusive stranger he’s sure had something to do with why she seemingly vanished without a trace.
The prose is rich and expressive. The characters are inquisitive, fearless, and impulsive. And the plot is an astute, compelling tale about life, loss, friendship, family, secrets, curiosity, adventure, guilt, death, grief, marine life, mother nature, self-identity, and first crushes.
Overall, Closer by Sea is ultimately a beautifully written coming-of-age tale interwoven with a thread of mystery that does a remarkable job of delving into the complex dynamics that exist between childhood friends and is a wonderful reminder of just how complicated, challenging, memorable and emotional growing up can truly be, especially when doing so in a small island community where everyone knows everyone else.
This novel is available now.
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Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for gifting me a copy in exchange for an honest review.