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Alumni Book Review

By Josh Bowar

The Young Man and the Sea

The Young Man and the Sea

When a book starts with the sentence “Before I tell you about the biggest fish in the sea and how it tried to kill me and then ended up saving my life, first you got to know about the leaky boat, ‘cause it all began right there,” you know it’s going to be good.  And when you overhear a middle school boy excitedly recommend the same book to his friends, you read it in one night.

Rodman Philbrick’s The Young Man and the Sea is one of those books.

Set in a small fishing village, the novel features twelve-year-old Skiff Beaman, a young man whose home life is enough to sink his spirits.  His mom has just passed away, and his stunned dad is too depressed to get out of bed in the morning.

So Skiff is determined to take care of not only himself, but also his father, a once-legendary fisherman. Skiff cooks the meals, cleans up the house, and tries to earn money by catching lobsters. But these lobsters aren’t enough to keep his family afloat, so he is lured to fix the Mary Rose, the boat that once hauled in blue fin tuna for his father. Much to his dismay, Skiff discovers that the boat’s engine needs thousands of dollars worth of repairs before it will ever be of any use.

Skiff decides to take a small rowboat into the ocean, and he is determined to catch a tuna that will earn enough to help his father break out of his depression. He packs a few peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, gets some bait, and pushes off into the biggest adventure of his life. What happens out on the deep waters changes Skiff profoundly, helping him gain the responsibility, confidence, and drive to face life’s trials.

The Young Man and the Sea is an action-packed young adult novel that equally balances character development, setting, conflict, and a suspenseful plot into a tale that will hook even the most reluctant of readers.  Don’t let this be the one that got away.

Josh Bowar, a 2005 graduate originally from South Dakota, spends his time between hurricanes teaching middle school language arts at Lake Worth Christian School in Boynton Beach, Florida.  He enjoys spending time with his wife, Alicia, and he also coaches basketball, sponsors student council, and grades papers and reads by the lapping waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

Read a good book lately that you’d like to tell others about? We welcome your book reviews. Submit inquiries or reviews to alumni@dordt.edu