Cover Image: Closer by Sea

Closer by Sea

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Member Reviews

I did not finish this one, it was not for me, I couldn't relate to the characters, and just did not care for the story.
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So this was just okay. A coming of age story set in eastern Canada reminiscent of Stephen King’s The Body, we follow a group of 12 year old friends trying to hunt down a missing girl on a sparsely populated island. I found it to be a bit too juvenile, even though the story was told by an adult remembering his past. The mystery was there, however, I wasn’t personally pulled into the story. At times predictable and boring I found the most interest parts to be the descriptions of the island and Canadian culture itself.
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This was an enjoyable read following the story of Pierce who has lost his father at sea, whose body was never recovered. Pierce along with some friends work together to find a young girl who has gone missing from the community. Along the way are a group of bullies who impact their search. The setting is a small island community in Newfoundland. Very atmospheric and poignant.
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Carries you to a time and place of innocence and burgeoning adulthood.  A time when children still worked to pave their own way.  Middle-schoolers who are best buds and who know every inch of the land where they live.

The oceanside setting is a character in itself.  Icebergs, treacherous seas, the smell of saltwater.  The book is a siren song to the community and the way of life there.


I only have one complaint and that is that a teen girl is made to be gay.  It's unnecessary and would have been shocking in 1990.  But, of course, no publisher lets a book get published these days without at least one same-sex romantic reference.  (Eye roll.)


Excellent.  Well done.  A great, nostalgic read.  Especially if you have a love for all things ocean, this one is for you.
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This is a touching coming of age story. The writing is atmospheric with realistic characters that will stay with you.  
Many thanks to Simon & Schuster Canada and to Netgalley for providing me with a galley in exchange for my honest opinion.
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This was a truly enjoyable read by a Canadian author. It is part mystery, part coming-of-age story. This story was a breath of fresh, ocean air: it had a certain lightness to it because it was told from the eyes of a 12 year-old child. The story is set in a fishing village on an island off the coast of Newfoundland. Newfoundland settings are underrepresented in Canadian literature - I believe it was the first time I read a book set in what I believe is one of Canada's most scenic provinces. Yet, the author portrayed very well how the fishing industry is failing due to overfishing and is negatively impacting those who rely on it for their livelihoods. There was a certain melancholy to this side-theme in the story and a certain call to action and awareness.

In this book, the mystery of a missing girl is solved by a group of inseparable friends one summer. However, I was a bit disappointed by the rushed, anticlimactic ending, earning this book four instead of five stars. I was expecting a plot twist, yet unfortunately it never came.

However, I do really recommend this book. It had a certain melancholy and nostalgia to it, which automatically wins my heart over!

Read if you like:
🏡 Small town setting
⚓ Island/coastal setting
🐟 Fishing tales
🔎 Mysteries
💚 Young friendship stories

⚠️ Potential trigger warnings: death of a family member, missing persons (may not be an exhaustive list)

🙏 Thank you NetGalley and Simon and Schuster Canada for the gifted electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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I really enjoyed this book. 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. 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, 
It is a coming of age story, so realistic. the writing is smooth and kept me turning pages. I like every kids in this book.  the mystery unwrapped well. 
Newfoundland is the special place for every Canadian.  We know about it, but we don't really know.  We want to visit there, but it always the next trip.
Thanks to this book, I learned a lot of this particular land of Canada.
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I really enjoyed this one. Going in, I thought it would have been more of a mystery, more investigating, but I’m almost glad it wasn’t. I loved that it mainly just focused on this group of misfits figuring things out one pivotal summer. They definitely had Goonies/Los(v)er’s Club vibes. I loved the setting. I loved how well it worked. I almost wish it was longer but that’s basically my only complaint.
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OMG! For the sake of some sites like Goodreads, I gave this 4.5 rounded down to four… But I could wholeheartedly see this as a movie, and I could picture it being a stellar five star rating! What a wonderful coming of age story set in 1991, which happens to be the year I graduated high school… So the nostalgia alone was highly enjoyable! 

This book reminded me of a cross between the movies, Stand By Me and The Goonies— part, mystery and thriller with 12 year old boys and a girl or a, “first crush”. Family and found family is everything in this story. Set on a fishing village hit by hard economic times, I could picture vividly in my mind, the grit, dirt, fish guts, and even the teasing and harassment by the bullies. The descriptive bluffs and scenery alone, made me want to be there. 

The mystery comes in the form of a missing girl and an old loner in the village who did not grow up there, so he becomes a mystery in and of himself. There are wonderful, sea and animal facts along the way! 

In my profile on NetGalley, I describe how opportunities on here, lead me to find authors I wouldn’t have sought out initially. I would now wholeheartedly read anything else by this author! Highly recommend!
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This book transports readers to the coast of Newfoundland and immerses readers in its unique culture in such a beautiful way as it follows 12-year-old Pierce Jacobs and his friends as they investigate the mysterious disappearance of a young girl. 

Reminiscent of Stand By Me, I loved the innocence of this book even as it grappled with challenging topics such as the collapse of the cod fishing industry and the family and community challenges that often accompany economic hardships. 

Part thriller, part coming-of-age tale, this was a quick read that I’m sure I’ll be passing on to fellow readers soon - especially my friends with Newfie roots! It would also make an excellent Father’s Day gift.
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This was my most anticipated early summer ARC from Simon and Schuster Canada! For those who love a Newfoundland read and fans of Katie Tallo's Dark August. Closer By Sea is a mystery novel set on a small island, off the coast of Newfoundland. Pierce is still dealing with the grief of growing up without a father, who was lost at sea, when a girl had befriended goes missing. Set in the 90s, in the midst of a fishing crisis, this novel is also a commentary on environmental issues like overfishing and climate change.

Overall, it's an awesome Canadian read, with great attention to the problems that our East Coast has faced. Great character development and interweaving of topics. Just enough mystery to have me on the edge of my seat! This would be a great read for any fathers who enjoy a good mystery, with Father's Day coming up.
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I am unable to read this book on the NetGalley shelf app due to the font size. I would like to thank you for the copy but I could not read it.
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Atmospheric, mysterious, and immersive!

Closer by Sea is a captivating, poignant tale that sweeps you away to Perigo Island just off the coast of Newfoundland and into the life of twelve-year-old Pierce Jacobs as he spends one summer in 1991 hanging with friends, making a little extra money cutting out cod tongues and selling them to tourists, saving up everything he can to repair his late father’s fishing boat, coming to grips with the disappearance of a young girl he slightly knew, and secretly investigating the old, reclusive stranger he’s sure had something to do with why she seemingly vanished without a trace.

The prose is rich and expressive. The characters are inquisitive, fearless, and impulsive. And the plot is an astute, compelling tale about life, loss, friendship, family, secrets, curiosity, adventure, guilt, death, grief, marine life, mother nature, self-identity, and first crushes.

Overall, Closer by Sea is ultimately a beautifully written coming-of-age tale interwoven with a thread of mystery that does a remarkable job of delving into the complex dynamics that exist between childhood friends and is a wonderful reminder of just how complicated, challenging, memorable and emotional growing up can truly be, especially when doing so in a small island community where everyone knows everyone else.
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I wanted to pick up something different that wasn’t like something I had read in awhile so I picked up Closer by Sea. I liked this book but it wasn’t a favourite.

This one tells us the story of Pierce and his young friends. Another girl on their island goes missing and pierce thinks he knows what has happened to her.

It was fun to read from a younger perspective (they were 12) and see how they saw things, especially how pierce saw things about his missing friend. I thought the ending wrapped up to quickly and while I did like it I found myself bored at some parts. The writing was very easy to read and flowed well.

Thanks to netgalley for my review copy
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It’s been 3 years since 12-year-old Pierce Jacobs lost his father to the sea, and his heartache and guilt haven’t gotten any better, not even with the support of his two friends, Bennie and Thomas. The only person who seemed to know what he was going through was Anna Tessier, a girl a couple of years older than him, but now she, too, has disappeared.
Pierce has always felt the authorities gave up too soon when finding his father. He is determined not to let the same thing happen to Anna, so with the help of his friends and Bennie’s cousin Emily, they go “undercover” to determine who is responsible for Anna’s disappearance. Living on tiny Perigo Island, just off the coast of Newfoundland, their suspects are few. Could it be the “outsider” Solomon Vickers, a recluse who lives on the island for part of the year? Or maybe it’s one of the “Arseholes”, a group of older boys who take pride in bullying the younger kids? Then there is the assortment of visitors on the island, many of whom have the potential to kidnap a young girl. Then there is also the sea itself. Unforgiving and unrelenting in its beautiful destructiveness. 
I really loved this book. As soon as I started reading it, I knew immediately it would be perfect for a novel study for junior and senior high. It possesses beautiful imagery, an interesting assortment of characters, and a variety of themes (friendship, grief, coming of age, industrialization, identity, and environmentalism, to name a few) with the potential for rich classroom discussion.
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Newfoundland is such a magical and unique landscape and Closer by Sea by Perry Chafe transports you there.  I was fortunate to visit once during iceberg season and can easily imagine so much of the atmosphere in this book.  There is something so unique about the East Coast and in this coming-of-age story, the landscape is as much a character as Pierce Jacobs and his friends.  Set in 1991, Pierce lives on an island off of mainland Newfoundland where fishing is the staple industry that is slowing down.  Pierce has recently lost his Father to the sea and when a local girl Anna goes missing, he along with his good friends Thomas, Bennie, and CFA (come from away) Emily search for clues of what happened to her.  When Solomon (who reminds me so much of “Old Man Marley” from Home Alone) comes to the island, the friends instantly assume he might be involved.  They break into his home and find pictures Anna drew along with something unimaginable.  As penance for their actions, they all agree to work for Solomon and learn about his history and how he is connected to Anna.  Can the friends find out what happened to Anna, or will her whereabouts become another mystery of the island.  With messages of the importance of family, friends, belonging, perseverance, and the environment, this book is perfect for those who adore the stories unique to east coast life.  Thank you to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Picture a small island community off the coast of Newfoundland. The main livelihood for the people is the fishery, but the fish supply is dwindling. Picture a group of preteens bombing around on three-wheeled ATVs, past colourful saltbox houses to the docks, where they cut out cod tongues to sell to tourists. Surrounding them is the ocean and the occasional iceberg. I have only been to Newfoundland once, but as a Maritimer, the setting of this book is so familiar to me. The book deserves four stars just for transporting the reader back to a coastal community in the nineties.

The story follows Pierce and his friends as they look for clues in the disappearance of a local teenage girl. The sleuthing is pretty unsophisticated since it’s a bunch of kids making unreasonable conclusions. As an adult, it was bit hard to go along with the investigation knowing how flawed their thought process was.

But this is not really a mystery novel. This is a coming of age story about the legacy of the fishery, about small town connections, and mainly about grief. The middle is bogged down with marine biology lessons, but overall it is a touching and nostalgic novel.
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A backstory of writing Q&A with the author is featured in Zed Books, the books section of Zoomer magazine.
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Perry Chafe perfectly captures the voice of 12 year old Pierce as he navigates life since his father’s death, the hardships that face the local fishery on their island off the coast of Newfoundland, and the disappearance of a young teen named Anna in their community.

You will truly feel you are a part of Pierce’s circle of friends and be reminded of what was going through your mind at 12, all while being transported to what life was like for a fishing community in the 90’s. Friendships both likely and unlikely drive this story, along with loss of childhood, but the gain of resilience. The descriptive but simple nature of Chafe’s writing will keep you hooked until the end.
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I was immediately pulled into this literary tale about Pierce, who is forced to come of age without his recently lost at sea and presumed dead father. Problems like hard core bullies are nothing compared to the deja vous heartbreak Pierce experiences when a local teenager goes missing. There was a story of Pierce and his gang making friends with an old fisherman who was quirky but suspicious because he had something in his basement. I felt like I was in a Goonies movie - in a good way, - as the tension of the quest into the basement unfolded.. Then I saw many other readers had this same feeling. First novel, but not first 'storytelling' rodeo. Perry Chafe's experience in cinema is evident in the visual writing style and perfect pacing. He succinctly designed the dialogue to perfectly feed into the well rounded character building. I thoroughly enjoyed this reading experience. 
Thank you Netgalley and Simon & Schuster for this arc.
Closer by Sea by Perry Chafe will be published 
Today, May 23, 2023.
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