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I’m Kim Alexander and this is Fiction Nation. The book is Still Summer by Jacquelyn Mitchard.
This was pretty exciting for me, first because Jacqui Mitchard is a big deal, Oprah-approved and very talented writer (you may remember her from a little book called The Deep End of the Ocean) but also because she set this totally hair-raising novel in one of my favorite places, the British Virgin Islands. I went sailing with a group of friends last year, and was ready to set up shop in a shack on the beach. It’s awesomely beautiful, remote, the water is exactly the same color as the sky, plus the islands have not one but two official cocktails. (The Painkiller and the Bushwhacker, drink at your own risk.)
When I began reading about the little sailing getaway, a nice way for four old friends from high school to reconnect, I was delighted to recognize some of the places they traveled. But the gorgeous backdrop of sea and sky won’t help these women except in the way that their last moments will be gazing at something beautiful.
Ms. Mitchard was so smart to set these four high school buddies, long separated, in the claustrophobic confines of a sailboat, and then she tosses in the 19-year-old daughter of one of them to raise the stakes and the tension. There is a flirtation with the handsome deckhand, and then, quickly, an accident that sets them adrift. That’s when you really know a person, for good or bad, when the water is running out and there’s almost no sunscreen left, when the sails are gone and the pirates show up. Yeah, there are pirates in this book. Is the woman in front of you the same as the girl you remember? And can you count on her? I had to ask myself what I would do if our sailing trip had gone so terribly wrong? I hope I would have been as brave as some but certainly not all of the friends aboard the Opus. (Note to self, pack more sunscreen.)
I found a fast friend in Jacqui because it turns out we both have a passion for science fiction and fantasy, equaled only by our passion for David Duchovny.