Cover Image: Closer by Sea

Closer by Sea

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Member Reviews

Reminiscent of Stephen King's “Stand by Me” and Craig Davidson’s “The Saturday Night Ghost Club”, “Closer to Sea” is a poignant story of twelve-year old Pierce Jacobs and his coming to grips with his father's death and his changing relationships with his home and friends.

It’s  in 1991, off the coast of Newfoundland on a small island. Pierce’s father, a cod fisherman, died unexpectedly on the water three years earlier, and it’s just his mum and him now. Pierce misses his dad, and refuses to part with his father’s boat still.

His small island  community is made up of cod fisherman and their families, with the men fishing, and many of the women working at the fish canning plant, though there are some people who have left the island for work in St. John's. And though no one thinks much of this alarming development, every year, the cod yields are a little less.

Pierce and his friends watch for returning boats filled with fish, are bullied by older, high school-aged boys, and bomb about the island on their ATVs when not in school. Then, Anna Tessier, who convinced a younger, grieving Pierce not to run away, disappears. Anna’s disappearance ignites Pierce’s feelings of guilt and loss, making him cross and short tempered with his friends Thomas and Bennie, and increasingly convinced, with no evidence to back it up, that local recluse Solomon knows something about Anna’s disappearance.

Pierce convinces the boys, and Bennie's New York City cousin Emily, who is visiting for the summer, to look for Anna. Pierce’s fixation on Solomon as the culprit leads him to doing things he would normally never do, as well as exacerbating some of the tensions already present between him and his friends. Also, Pierce and Emily’s growing closeness brings out Thomas’ insecurities, further rocking the three boys’ friendship.

Chafe draws parallels between the boys' changing friendship and the coming changes for the island. The boys will be heading to St John’s for high school, expanding their circle of acquaintances, while the cod fishery is soon to be shut down by the Canadian government, devastating the livelihoods of people on the island, and affecting the whole province. Perry Chafe’s novel captures the cusp of many changes through a focus on Pierce, with him experiencing his first crush, dealing with his grief, and contemplating travelling away from home for high school, and what that could mean for his already stressed friendships, and his relationship to his home. 

Chafe’s story drew me in immediately, and Pierce’s pain, love and confusion about the changes in him and around him are all wonderfully conveyed. It’s a novel full of energy and deep feelings, and all skillfully and deftly portrayed through the eyes of Chafe's twelve-years old Pierce.

Thank you to Netgalley and to Simon & Shuster Canada for this ARC in exchange for my review.
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This coming-of-age story with a twist of mystery was a delightful read. Not only because it is set in Canada (yay!), but it is such a beautifully written story!

I absolutely loved Chafe’s writing style, and the emotional maturity of the main character, Pierce Jacobs, a twelve-year-old boy. He navigates many complex situations and subsequent relationships with a strong sense of right and wrong.

The inclusion of knowledge regarding marine creatures was very cool, and I appreciate Chafe’s desire to educate people about marine biology, while also providing a very entertaining read.

One aspect that I really loved was that we see far into the future with the epilogue. I relish knowing where characters end up long after the story ends!

You should definitely read this book if, one, you’re Canadian, two, you enjoy young adult novels, and three, you’re looking for an enjoyable read with excellent character development.
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A beautiful coming of age story, with a tale of friendship and loss. 12-year-old Pierce and his two best friends Thomas and Bennie along with Emily, a new arrival to their island, set out to find a missing young teen named Anna Tessier. A stranger to the island Solomon Vickers is their prime suspect. Solomon becomes a teacher, ally and father figure to all three kids. Absent fathers, in different forms, is a major theme of this story. The bullying by Ross Coles and the Arseholes was exactly what I imagined would happen in this small fishing community. 

This short, page turner read has a ‘Stand by Me’ feel with the adventures of these pre-teens on their ATV’s zipping around an island to solve the mystery of the missing Anna. 

The Newfoundland setting was vibrant in Mr. Chafe’s description and the demise of this small island town fishing community was very sad. All characters were well described and all their actions and feelings were so true to life.

Favorite quote “But the best way to honor those we’ve lost is to live the very best life we can.”

Thank you NetGalley, Simon and Schuster and Perry Chafe for the advanced copy.
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This book definitely has some charming moments, likeable characters, and vividly portrays the small town feel. I think it might be better categorized as a YA as it reads something like a “Hardy Boys” mystery more than the typical mystery/thriller vibe I was expecting. Overall this was an ok read for me.

💕You might like this book if:
🔹 you enjoy small town vibes
🔹 you are interested in marine biology 
🔹you like when authors add thoughts / facts on environmental concerns
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Closer By Sea is a very interesting story about life in the fisheries, family heritage, and knowing your surroundings.  The haves and have nots and growing up where life is "different".  This book had me turning the pages and enjoying the unfolding story of life on the East Coast,  Small communities helping each other and sometimes not!  Growing up in this part of the world has it's challenges, trials, and victories.  No one knows your own backyard like you do!  A very interesting and enjoyable way to turn pages!

I just reviewed Closer by Sea by Perry Chafe. #NetGalley
[NetGalley URL]
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Closer by Sea is so well-written, the writing almost eclipses the amazing coming-of-age story itself. Mixing mystery with nostalgia,  this book ticks all the boxes. I inhaled it, missing the characters before I had even finished reading it. This is definitely going on my "favourites" book shelf.
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I loved this Newfoundland tale. Stories of grief and friendship, of the sea and sea creatures. The context of a mystery was well done and the main characters and their lives felt real and complex. The story of the death of a father who is a fisherman in the social context of a collapsing fishery was deeply resonant. The wonder of the children in the story over the beauty of sea life against the exploitation of it was powerful. The loss of a beautiful life, in more ways than one, was heartbreaking. 

What a lovely book. I'd read anything this author wrote in the future.
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Pierce Jacobs and his two friends, Benny and Thomas live on a small island off the coast of Newfoundland. Benny’s cousin Emily arrives from NY to spend the summer at Benny’s house. Waiting for the fishing boats to come in so they can harvest cod tongues is the way for these twelve year olds to make some spending money during the summer holidays.
Anna is Pierce’s friend and offers him a shoulder when he most needs it after his dad, a fisherman, is lost at sea. Three years later, present day, Anna disappears and Jacob is positive a newcomer to the island is responsible.
Part mystery, part thriller this book describes the east coast of Canada so well you’re almost there. Peter Chafe does an excellent job of bringing this small island to life, in your mind.
 Peter Chafe’s coming-of-age novel is a beautiful tale of friendship, loss and learning what you see isn’t always as it appears.
Thank you to NetGalley, Scribner Canada and Perry Chafe for my ARC of Closer by the Sea!
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A good coming of age story set in 1990’s Newfoundland at the time of the cod fisheries collapse. A twelve year old boy still coping with the loss of his father several years earlier is faced with the disappearance of another person from this small island community. Along the lines of Stand By Me, he and his friends take it upon themselves to search for her. A mysterious stranger may be the key. Sweet story, evocative of time and place.
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I loved the small town feel of this novel. The author did a wonderful job with character building and made the reader care for many of the characters. This book follows a band of friends who are searching for an answer after a local girl goes missing under suspicious circumstances. The author inspired a desire to visit a small and isolated island to examine the beauty associated with a smaller population.
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Closer by Sea by Perry Chafe is a coming-of-age story which is set in the early 90’s in outport Newfoundland, in an island community like many, that was heavily reliant on the fishery. A local, Anna, goes missing and it has a profound impact on 12-year-old Pierce Jacobs, who has experienced a lot of loss in his young life. During their last summer before they have to start leaving to go off-island to attend school Pierce and his group of friends work together to try and find Anna. This story touches on a number of themes including friendship, bullying, loss, change, as well as the power of the ocean. As is the case with many stories set in Newfoundland, the setting plays an important role in the story. 

Thank you to Simon and Schuster Canada, NetGalley and Perry Chafe for the eARC of this book, in exchange for an honest review.
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This heartfelt coming-of-age story is set in rural Newfoundland in the early nineties.
Much like the 1986 movie "Stand By Me," the story centers around a group of kids spending the summer together and trying to solve the mystery of a missing teen from their tiny community. The kid's prime suspect is a mysterious old man who keeps to himself on the far side of the island but without compelling evidence, the kids decide to investigate on their own.
I really enjoyed this story and appreciated Chafe's descriptions of the rugged beauty of Newfoundland. The descriptions were so vivid that the island felt like an extra character in the story. I also appreciated that Chafe explained some of Newfoundland's idiosyncrasies. This should avoid confusion for readers who are not familiar with NL culture.
I will definitely be keeping an eye out for Chafe's future works of fiction!
Thank you to Simon and Schuster Canada, and NetGalley for this ARC.
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Canadian author Perry Chafe isn’t exactly a household name, but you’ll know his work if you’ve watched any Canuck television in recent years. He is the writer and producer of hit shows such as Republic of Doyle and Son of a Critch. Now, he’s turned his talent to books by penning his debut novel Closer by Sea. It’s a read that will probably be best suited for teenagers as it is a coming-of-age story set in the early 1990s in Newfoundland. The publicity notes for this one call it a Canadian Stand by Me, which is an apt comparison. The plot is simple: it follows a 12-year-old boy named Pierce who lives on a small island off the northeastern shore of Newfoundland. His fisherman father had died three years earlier in a boating accident on the ocean, and, as this book opens, a young girl named Anna — a few years older than Pierce — has gone missing. Pierce, still reeling from his dad’s death, is so stricken by Anna’s disappearance, especially as he had a few interactions with her, that he and his friends band together to find out what happened. They suspect an older gentleman on the island, a stranger named Solomon Vickers, has something to do with the disappearance and possible murder of the girl — and start snooping into his life. However, they soon come to realize that Solomon is not the fiend that he seems to be and is suffering from trauma himself. All in all, new friendships are forged against this backdrop of seemingly endless heartbreak.

Closer by Sea is one of those books that throw in everything but the kitchen sink. Readers will get a little romance, some sarcastic humour, and even an ecology lesson or two. Plus, the book works as a bit of a thriller. The novel’s setting is interesting, at least in terms of the timeline. Anyone with long memories knows that the early ’90s signalled the end of the cod fishing industry in Newfoundland, with resources having been overfished to abundance. This means that many of the characters in the story are grappling with the thought of leaving everything they know behind on their tiny island to search for better jobs on the “mainland” of Newfoundland proper. That’s not all. This is also a book about prejudice — pleading for the necessity to look at people in a different light from what they might appear to be at first. This is an important message of the book, given where it is coming from in terms of — once again — its setting. After all, how many stereotypical “Newfie” jokes have Canadians told, painting Newfoundlanders as something of backwoods cousins to the rest of Canada: cousins who are stupid and lacking in common sense, if not for the fact that they seem to be drunk all the time. (How many “a Newfie walks into a bar” jokes have you heard if you’re a Canadian?)

This is also a crucial book about friendship and bonds that change over time. Much of this book is humourous, with Pierce and his friends trading zingers left, right, back, forth, and centre throughout the whole read. But, again, that’s not all. It’s also a painful mediation on loss — what it feels like to lose a parent or another loved one, in a place that’s known not only for its beauty but its danger and treachery as well. While the book doesn’t linger too long on this — this is a mostly uplifting book — the theme is there and strikes a poignant chord. But, most of all, this novel is a big sopping love letter to Newfoundland and all its people and traditional customs: fairies play a role in the plot, though this is not a work of magical realism by any stretch. Thus, there’s a lot of stuff going on beneath the surface, and the novel keeps getting better and better as it goes along — even if it does conclude with a somewhat silly plot element that involves a sea turtle. Again, this is probably a book best targeted towards young adults mature enough to handle a little bit of salty language given the simplicity of the read and the fact that it is narrated by a preteen — though adults may find something to enjoy in this rousing yarn, too.

I want to get back to the stereotype of so-called “Newfies” as being portrayed as simple or dumb — and the use of the term as an epithet. Against that context, Chafe is doing something important here: he’s showing that a Newfoundlander can write an accessible, but deep book, that is clever, smart, and appealing. He may not recognize this — or perhaps he might — but he may be primarily responsible for challenging the ways that Mainlander Canadians who don’t live on the island look at his people. Through all his successes with TV shows, and now novel writing, Chafe is paving a way for a new treatment of Newfoundlanders that doesn’t always rely on stereotypes. To that end, Closer by Sea is a profound achievement. It’s not perfect, and nobody is going to mistake this book for high literature — but it is pleasurably readable and treats its subjects as real human characters who are not who they seem to be at first blush. To that end, this is a remarkable book. It’s also one that demands swift attention to it: it begs to be read in just a sitting or two, and this may be possible as it is a short novel of fewer than 300 pages. But as far as these types of things go, there’s some nuance here and some real brains. All in all, Closer by Sea proves that Newfoundlanders are just like everyone else with their own sets of problems — and that they are immensely likable to boot. (Even if you suspect one of them might be a murderer.) These characters have charm and class, and everyone in Canada should be grateful that a book like this and an author like this exist.
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As a Newfoundlander this story has special meaning and i ABSOLUTELY loved this book. it was a bit slow but This is a beautiful atmospheric story about the difficulties of growing up  and learning to cope with the sudden loss of who you love. It is also a story of hope, and the passion of youth and discovery in trying times as the once booming Cod fishing industry, where most Newfoundlanders survive off.

such an amazing story. even if your not a newfoundlander. you will still enjoy this story.

thanks netgalley and publisher
all thughts and opinions are my own and arent influenced by anyone else
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Closer By Sea is a beautifully nostalgic coming of age story that  captured my heart.. This atmospheric and character driven story takes place on a Newfoundland Island. with glaciers and mysterious sea creatures. I loved learning about the fishing culture of the islanders and following the protagonist, Pierce and his three friends navigate the local bullies, the mystery of a missing teenage girl and Pierces' unresolved grief of his father,  lost at sea. The writing was perfect. It is a short read and a real page turner. A beautiful debut novel that will stay with me. Easy four stars. I voluntarily reviewed a complementary copy of this book and all opinions are my own.
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Just finished reading “Closer to the Sea”   by Perry Chafe. 

This book was a coming of age story about four friends and is reminiscent of Stand by Me. 

The book is slow moving but interesting. Pierce, a twelve year old, has just lost his father when a local girl goes missing. He makes it his mission to find out what happened to her. 

There is an air of mystery around her disappearance and a stranger to the island. Pierce begins to suspect the two are related. As the story unfolds, Pierce realizes you can’t judge a book by its cover.
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This book was a little slow to get started, but made up for it as the story went on! The writing was excellent - not so basic that it was boring, but not too top level that it required researching terms. The characters came to life in my mind, and the story line flowed perfectly. I'd recommend this to friends and family!
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Closer by Sea - Perry Chafe

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for this eARC.

This novel introduces us to Pierce Jacobs, a youth suffering from the pain of sudden loss, who wants nothing as much as he wants his world to return to what it was before his life changed in ways he never wanted and couldn't anticipate.

As Pierce can't return to his former life, he at least wants to know what happened to those who vanished suddenly from the realm of his world.

Young Pierce's father was out to sea on a fishing trip when he never returned home, a trip that Pierce had planned on making with his dad. 

Later, Pierce experiences the loss of a mysterious young female teenager he befriended who suddenly disappears from their small island. 

This is a beautiful atmospheric story about the difficulties of growing up  and learning to cope with the sudden loss of who (and what) you love. It is also a story of hope, and the passion of youth and discovery in trying times as the once lucrative fishing industry, where Pierce's father made his livelihood, slowly dies off, threatening the future of the small island that comprises the only home that Pierce has ever known.
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Thank you Net Galley for the advanced copy in return for an honest review.

This was a sweet book. The action was not fast and furious but it was still enough to keep my interest. Being Canadian I was very interested in life in a different Province. 

I was worried that I was not the target audience since it opened like a coming of age book for a teen boy but there was enough "meat" in the story to make it an entirely enjoyable read.
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If you’ve never been to the east coast of Canada, this is the book to read. Chafe describes the scenery and history seamlessly with the dialogue and experiences of the characters. He weaves in stories of folklore, facts of soil nutrients and the ceremony for an honorary islander (kissing the cod), all told with a smile of knowledge and sharing that can only be told by someone who loves their life.
I learned so much about the fishing industry, terrain, and culture of the people who fiercely defended their life-style on Perigo Island. Another bonus, the author’s words encouraged me to look up more of the history and where the island is situated, which is prime on my list of making a book worthwhile. I feel that I am more familiarized with my country, #Canada is the best!
Told through the eyes of a young man, the story is not at all condescending in approach, and would be appreciated by any reader. Spoiler ** However, the subject material is more suited for an adult, dealing with family loss and death of a character.
There is a lovely relationship explored through Pierce’s voice with his Mom, his deceased father, his close friends, and a few mysterious strangers. The book speaks so emotionally of how those closest to you influence your life but also how people you encounter very briefly can have a tremendous impact.
Thank you #NetGalley for this early copy for my honest review. I loved this book and look forward to reading more from this author.
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