Review: The Starboard Sea

The Starboard Sea

The Starboard Sea
By Amber Dermont
(St. Martin’s Press, Hardcover, 9780312642808, February 2012, 320pp.)

The Short of It:

Deeply introspective and hard to put down. The Starboard Sea has something for everyone.

The Rest of It:

After a losing his best friend to suicide, Jason Prosper leaves the world of Kensington Prep, to attend Bellingham Academy, a rich, private school reserved for those who have had less luck elsewhere. His sailing ability allows him the mix and mingle with the “in” crowd but these students are all broken  in some way and as he grieves for the loss of his friend, he meets and falls in love with Adrian, who is different from any girl he has ever met. His love for Adrian and who she reminds him of, is what forces him to deal with a previous indiscretion. An indiscretion that has held him captive since his days at Kensington.

What a fabulous book. This book surprised me. Mostly because I love books that feature a prep school setting, but not many can compare to A Separate Peace by John Knowles which happens to be one of my favorite books. The Starboard Sea has a little bit of everything…interesting characters, heavy themes and a  main protagonist who is tortured by something he’s done. Very similar to A Separate Peace in that regard and probably why it appealed to me. What also impressed me, is that these students are much more complex than your average prep school students and not nearly as predictable. The author does a stellar job of revealing them slowly, layer by layer. Just when you think you know them, you realize that there is so much more to know.

The Starboard Sea is a book that reads easy, yet gives you plenty to think about. The story itself might appeal to younger readers, but I should note that there is casual drug use along with drinking and sexual references. Keep this in mind if you are thinking about giving this to a teen in your home.

Source: Sent to me by the publisher via Net Galley.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

25 thoughts on “Review: The Starboard Sea”

  1. Cool. I loved A Separate Peace! It has been years since I’ve read it, but this sounds like a good one. thanks for the review; i like books that surprise me.

    1. I read the sequel to A Separate Peace (Peace Breaks Out) but it wasn’t nearly as good. Did you read that one?

  2. I think I have an e-galley of this one somewhere, but I had completely forgotten about it because I’ve heard so little about it. I’m a fan of prep school novels too, so I’m also adding A Separate Piece to my list and hope to get this one soon.

  3. I’ve had this on my list to read, so I’m glad you reviewed & liked it. Seems like a good summer read. What makes prep school books so good? All that young angst ?!

  4. I think the lack of publicity this one has received makes me want to read it more. A lot of my favorite books weren’t promoted heavily but slipped in quietly. I love prep school settings especially when used to facilitate a more introspective story. Definitely one of my ‘must reads’ for this summer!

  5. I like prep school settings as well…I can’t remember if I ever read A Separate Peace or not :/ Isn’t that sad? I need to get it off the shelf and investigate immediately 🙂

  6. I had not heard of this book, but I absolutely loved A Separate Peace when I was young, and the fact that this book reminded you of it really makes me hungry to grab this when I can. I love the way you shroud your review with mystery and don’t give any spoilers about what secrets are hiding between the pages. Great review today!

    1. I still have my old, battered copy of A Separate Peace. It was such a special book to me in college. Not really sure why as I typically do not like “war” novels but the characters were so great.

  7. It’s sounds pretty intense.

    Unlike you, I was scarred horribly by A Separate Peace. I read it in 12th grade, and on our final essay I wrote seperate instead of separate and the teacher made a snide comment on the paper, and I’ve since blocked all memories of the book.

    1. I have a fear ofmisspelling “separate” too. I am always double-checking. I wrote a screenplay based on the book.. was my final grade one year and I was over the moon pleased with it. Guess it was a different experience for me!

  8. Bravo! I have always enjoyed A Separate Peace, which I read over and over again over the years but have found nothing to its equal. I welcome a deeply introspective book that explores deep human themes. This one goes into my summer bin.

  9. I have yet to read A Separate Peace even though I’ve picked it up to read on numerous occasions!! I’ve not heard of this book until your revieww but it certainly has my attention now!

  10. I’ve not read A Separate Peace but is required summer reading for my daughter’s Honors English for next year, so I am thinking that now would be the time. I love the setting of a prep school. It is just a nest for all kinds of things to happen.

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