Saltwater Boy

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Pub Date Oct 01 2024 | Archive Date Jun 03 2024

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When Matthew's dad gets in trouble, he makes trouble for everyone else too.

But with Dad in jail, Matthew and his mom have a chance to put their pieces back together.

Mom makes plans for a summer down the coast, fixing up Grandpa's old place in an effort to make ends meet. The beach, the swirling rockpools, and the vast ocean offer new perspective and promise for Matthew as he strikes up a friendship with Bill, an old local who recognizes a fellow 'Saltwater Boy.' Bill shows Matthew how to find pippis and catch fish (and even make a few dollars from it). Bill becomes the paternal figure that Dad isn't—wise and patient—but Bill isn't welcomed in town, and Matthew begins to witness old rivalries and buried truths resurface.

Then Dad gets out on parole, and his recklessness puts everything, and everyone, at risk.

Heartfelt and poignant, this captivating coming-of-age story navigates the difficult terrain of fractured families, the lies that break, and the ties that bind.

When Matthew's dad gets in trouble, he makes trouble for everyone else too.

But with Dad in jail, Matthew and his mom have a chance to put their pieces back together.

Mom makes plans for a summer...

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ISBN 9781760659400
PRICE $19.99 (USD)

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Average rating from 7 members

Featured Reviews

The poignancy of this book matches the pace, which is methodic and steady.

In this middle grade novel, Matthew and his mom face difficult times -- Matthew's dad is in prison and money is short. They must make alternate and surprise plans, moving into Matthew's grandpa's old place.

Filled with memories of the new old house, new friends and old, including Old Bill -- Matthew's newest friend -- and old habits interfering with a new start, this novel fits a coming-of-age theme.

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With dad in prison, mom and Matthew go away to Poppy’s house to fix it up to sell. While there, Matthew meets Old Bill who takes him fishing and the two become friends. Some men tell Matthew to be careful of Old Bill. When Matthew’s dad is out on parole he comes back and is angry and hits Matthew but then apologizes and says I’m trying to do better. His dad tells Old Bill stay away from my son. His dad wants to try and catch a blue marlin, he takes Old Bill’s boat and he and Matthew go out. When a wave hits the boat and takes them both overboard, Matthew has to save his dad. What happens afterward?

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There was so much potential in the storyline of this book, but it just felt a little flat for me. I kept finding myself wishing for it to push further, or seem a little more authentic in the character interactions, but it just stayed in a sort of trying-to-impart-some-moral-for-a-middle-schooler area.

In the story Marty’s dad is in jail and his mom has to move him to a small coastal town to make ends meet. Everything is going well, Matt makes friends with a local fisherman, and is falling in love with the town, until Marty’s dad gets paroled and joins them in Crawley Point and everything changes.

I liked Bill’s character, and the story of his past, and how much kindness he showed to Matty. The Asha storyline wasn’t super necessary, I think? It felt like a random tie to his past, that didn’t push the plot or add anything really to the story. I would have preferred the focus stay on Matt, Gary and Bill.

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