Ron Irwin’s powerful debut, Flat Water Tuesday (St. Martin’s/Thomas Dunne, June), is making the kind of waves a scull isn’t supposed to. Working-class rower Rob Carrey, 18, spends a turbulent senior year at a New England prep school on a special scholarship to help the school beat its arch-rival. Fifteen years later, his romantic relationship in crisis, Rob returns for the first time for a class reunion and memorial service for a teammate. Skillfully interweaving the two narrative strands, Irwin steers us through a tale that’s moving, tragic, brutal, elegiac, and hopeful in equal measure, with a cast whose complicated motivations pull them together and apart. The elegant unity of the rowers on the water plays against the chaos and turbulence of human ambition and desire. We witness two comings-of-age here—a skilled, arrogant young rower learning to compete with, rather than against, his crew, only to be scarred by tragedy, and years later as a guilt-ridden, solipsistic documentary filmmaker coming to a mature understanding of the power of human connection.