An environmentalist filmmaker recalls her long journey toward fulfilling her dream.
Author McVeigh was a middle school student when, on a field trip to a university, she saw “a blue sea star sitting all alone in a tank” at the oceanography department. “It looked so lonely and sad—it was as if I could feel what it was thinking and feeling,” she writes. “Professors talked about oceans around the world and all I could do was look at that lonely sea star and wish I could do something for it.” Years later, McVeigh did something for marine life by co-writing and producing Racing with Copepods, a documentary about middle school students who learn to sail while studying plankton. In McVeigh’s meandering memoir, she chronicles her arduous pursuit of her goals, which may have caused the demise of her marriage. “Dreams. When are they delusional, and when should we fight for them?” she asks. McVeigh’s father fought for his ideals when he joined his colleagues in the strike of the nation’s air traffic controllers in 1981. President Reagan fired all 11,500 of them, casting a shadow over McVeigh’s childhood. “When I see my parents, I only remember the pain of all those past years after dad was fired,” she says. Her own marriage was a struggle—she and her husband almost ruined themselves financially by working for a nonprofit sailing organization. McVeigh is in her element capturing the thrills of sailing: “you are negotiating only with nature, that higher spirit.” But much of the book reads like a diary dump with minimal editing or fact-checking. Mount St. Helens, for example, is misplaced in Oregon. And while the author narrates her own thought processes extensively, other characters aren’t fully realized.
The author’s sailing expeditions may be of more interest to readers than the wandering voyage of self-discovery.