The Family Ship

Sonja Yoerg. Lake Union, $14.95 trade paper (438p) ISBN 978-1-5420-0469-5
Yoerg takes the pulse of a Navy veteran’s large family in this keen novel (after Stories We Never Told). In 1980, Maeve and Arthur Vergennes have nine children with a 10th on the way in a small Virginia town on the Chesapeake Bay. The oldest, Jude, left the family under duress five years earlier, so Verity, the next oldest at 18, is considered captain of Nepenthe, the family’s dry-docked oyster boat. The vessel came with their sprawling house on a small island property and is central to the children’s lives, where every Saturday they head off on imaginary voyages, a family tradition that helps distract the children from the trauma of Jude’s departure and, eventually, Maeve’s death following a miscarriage. In chapters that alternate from different family members’ points of view, Yoerg does justice to their perspectives as they navigate various conflicts. At the center is a sexual assault endured by Verity at 13, and her controlling father’s unwillingness to allow her to leave home for college. The author tackles a full range of events with élan: the loss of innocence, the push-pull divide between father and son, and how tragedy can cause a family to implode or come out stronger. This richly-drawn and insightful story demonstrates an exceptionally deep understanding of family relationships. (Feb.)
Reviewed on : 11/20/2020
Release date: 02/01/2021
Genre: Fiction
MP3 CD - 978-1-7135-6015-9
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