LORD OF THE DEEP by Graham Salisbury


Age Range: 10 - 14
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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 an exploration of one boy’s conflicted feelings about fatherhood and his own impending manhood, this novel delivers beautifully. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-385-72918-9
Page count: 190pp
Publisher: Delacorte
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2001


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