When I first read Donna Tartt's incredible novel, 'The Secret History', I was mesmerized by her portrayal of wealth, privilege, and all the little 'games' rich kids played out of sheer boredom. Of course, those 'games' came at a price, and the poor suckers had to pay for it for the rest of their lives. It made me glad that all I had was credit card debt.
Lo and behold, another such book has burst upon the scene, and it is just as brilliant.
'The Starboard Sea', by Amber Dermont, is the story of a wealthy young man whose last chance at academic success lies in his attendance at a boarding school that just might provide what he needs. Jason's voice colors this story of tragic relationships, the love of the sea, and the search for meaning in a world that is constantly shifting. It is through this beautifully told tale that Jason finds the answers for which he is searching...and discovers a truth which leaves him heartbroken. He is consumed by guilt over the death of his best friend; gossip abounds about it, but Jason keeps his feelings hidden, which only fuels the flame.
On the surface, most of the major characters seem very frivolous, until you learn about their family relationships; divorce, debt, death. The Big Three. As each character acts out via silly games, idleness, and drinking bouts, you realize that they are avoiding the catastrophes and secrets that they keep well hidden.
Amber Dermont's first novel is a gem, and I'm eager to see what she has in store for us in the future.
And I hope it's the near future.