NAVIGATING THE DARWIN STRAITS by Edith Forbes

NAVIGATING THE DARWIN STRAITS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A young man comes of age as he learns to separate the strands of luck and genetics, idealism and practicality, that run through his life.

Jordy McNeil suffers through adolescence in his mother's hometown, a western ranching community where he is tormented by the strictures of conventionality. It doesn't help that his mother Donna is a lesbian who becomes openly involved with the local eccentric, Pat, the heroine of Forbes's first novel (Alma Rose, 1993); or that his high-school sweetheart also turns out to be a lesbian who uses their "dating" as a cover. Heartbroken, Jordy heads for the San Francisco Bay area, where he lucks into a job with stock options at a struggling computer start-up company called Ultimall—as in "ultimate shopping mall"—and flirts with consumerism. After he falls in love with yet another lesbian, he understandably feels jinxed in romance, and in actuality he never is a very convincing male character, too sensitive and lacking in carnality. His foremost drunken fantasy turns out to be of eating chocolate mousse. When Ultimall is sold for millions to a larger corporation, Jordy discovers that the money he finds himself rolling in doesn't make him happy. He tries a comically disastrous New Age spiritual vacation, then a voyage of discovery to Latin America, ending up in Seattle working with an idealistic, charmingly eccentric do-gooder. Forbes (Exit to Reality, 1997, etc.) tries earnestly to sort through the complexities inherent in good intentions, but she can't avoid a sugarcoating, even when Jordy finds himself part of genuine tragedy in a young boy's death. Filled with guilt, Jordy spends a winter in isolation—until good old Pat arrives to set him on back on track.

A feel-good tale for the politically correct, offering bland food for thought and characters too good to be interesting.

Pub Date: March 15th, 2001
ISBN: 1-58005-049-2
Page count: 310pp
Publisher: Seal Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2001




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