From the writer and producer of the hit TV shows Republic of Doyle and Son of a Critch, a poignant coming-of-age debut novel about the mysterious disappearance of a young girl and the fragility of childhood bonds, set against the backdrop of a small island community adapting to an ever-changing landscape.
In 1991, on a small, isolated island off the coast of Newfoundland, twelve-year-old Pierce Jacobs struggles to come to terms with the death of his father. It’s been three years since his dad, a fisherman, disappeared in the cold, unforgiving Atlantic, his body never recovered. Pierce is determined to save enough money to fix his father’s old boat and take it out to sea. But life on the island is quiet and hard. The local fishing industry is on the brink of collapse, threatening to take an ages-old way of life with it. The community is hit even harder when a young teen named Anna Tessier goes missing.
With the help of his three friends, Pierce sets out to find Anna, with whom he shared an unusual but special bond. They soon cross paths with Solomon Vickers, a mysterious, hermetic fisherman who may have something to do with the missing girl. Their search brings them into contact with unrelenting bullies, magnificent sea creatures, fierce storms, and glacial giants. But most of all, it brings them closer to the brutal reality of both the natural and the modern world.
Part coming-of-age story, part literary mystery, and part suspense thriller, Closer by Sea is a page-turning, poignant, and powerful novel about family, friendship, and community set at a pivotal time in modern Newfoundland history. It is an homage to a people and a place, and above all it captures that delicate and tender moment when the wonder of childhood innocence gives way to the harsh awakening of adult experience.
Growing up on an island has definite advantages and disadvantages. Knowing and relying upon all your neighbors is one advantage. Usually, the older boys and girls will make life difficult for the younger offspring. Pierce is one of those youngsters who is caught in the middle of the circle. The older kids beat up on him and his group mercilessly.
Islands near Newfoundland were great places to grow up in the latter half of the 20th century, but cod have been harvested to near extinction and Pierce’s father fails to come home after a day fishing. He and his mother are marooned with few options. To earn spending money, the children are cutting the tongues out of Cod fish and selling them. The older kids want the money for themselves and steal or bully the kids and take the fish and tongues.
Anna is a budding young artist who is renowned for her excellent sketches and other artwork. She winds up missing and the entire island starts a search for her. She cannot be found. Pierce, his mother, and the middle-aged group set out to search for her. An elderly, reclusive man on the island is suspected of foul play. His habits spark suspicion among the young friends.
This tale is well-written and endearing. There are no dull moments and the reader is rewarded with an engaging and rewarding tome. 4.5 stars – CE Williams
Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with the opportunity to read and review this book.
Rosepoint Publishing: Four point Five Stars
Genre: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Literary Fiction, Coming of Age Fiction, Psychological Thrillers
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Print Length: 272 pages
Publication Date: May 23, 2023
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
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The Author: Perry Chafe [born in St John’s, Canada] is a Canadian television writer, showrunner, producer and author. He is a co-founder and partner in Take the Shot Productions. Perry was the co-creator, showrunner, and head writer for the TV series Republic of Doyle, which ran for six seasons on the CBC, and an executive producer and writer for the Netflix/Discovery series Frontier, starring Jason Momoa. In addition, he was an executive producer and writer for Caught, a CBC limited series based on Lisa Moore’s award-winning novel of the same name. Perry is currently a writer and Co-Executive producer on the hugely successful CBC series Son of a Critch. On May 23rd, 2023, Perry will be releasing his much-anticipated debut novel, Closer By Sea, through Simon and Schuster Canada. [Goodreads]
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©2023 CE Williams – V Williams