Richie Partington's Reviews > Summer at Forsaken Lake

Summer at Forsaken Lake by Michael D. Beil
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Mar 16, 2012

it was amazing

Richie’s Picks: SUMMER AT FORSAKEN LAKE by Michael D. Beil, Knopf, June 2012, 256p., ISBN: 978-0-375-89791-7

“Seldom stumble, never crumble
Try to tumble, life’s a rumble
Feel the stinging I’ve been given
Never ending, unrelenting
Heartbreak searing, always fearing
Never caring, persevering
Sail on, sail on sailor”
--The Beach Boys (1973)

“On the mound, the girl took a deep breath and let go. The pitch was chest high and well inside, and Nicholas instinctively jerked his head back—just in time to watch something extraordinary happen. A few feet before reaching him, the ball took a sharp left turn and gracefully crossed over the center of the plate, leaving him standing there open-mouthed. A perfect, big-league quality curveball, unlike anything he’d ever seen in New York.
“’Steee-rike three!’ the catcher yelled.
“’Yerrr outta there!’ the shortstop added unnecessarily.
“Nicholas let the bat fall to the ground at his feet, which were still frozen in place. ‘Who is this kid?’ he asked no one in particular.
“’She’s your worst nightmare, son,’ the coach answered. ‘A cute girl with a wicked curveball. Remember the name, kid: Charlotte Brennan. Charlie. You’ll be hearing it again.’
“’You sure you don’t wanna try again, city boy?’ the girl asked. ‘C’mon. You’re just getting warmed up.’ She seemed to want him to stick around, but Nicholas figured that was only because she wanted to humiliate him again.
“He smiled and shook his head. ‘Maybe another time. I’ve gotta go.’ Overhead, the rumble of thunder confirmed that he was making the right decision.
“’Well, I guess we’ll see ya ‘round,’ Charlie said, smiling back.
“Charlie Brennan. Remember that name.”

As fate would have it, Charlie Brennan will turn out to be Nicholas Mettleson’s constant companion this summer, the summer that his divorced parents send twelve year-old Nicholas and his twin ten year-old sisters to stay with their great-uncle Nick at Ohio’s Forsaken Lake. Nicholas’s namesake is the same guy with whom Nicholas’s father spent summers as a teenager – learning sailing and film making in the process -- until certain events caused Nicholas’s father to abruptly leave the lake community and never return.
In a pitch-perfect summer read for 10-14 year-olds, these long-buried mysteries from twenty-five years ago are unraveled by this son of the boy and this daughter of the girl who were, themselves, inseparable all those years ago -- until something went very wrong.

In the process of unraveling mysteries, Nicholas, Charlie, and the twins will all become experienced in the art of sailing. Nicholas and Charlie will learn some fundamentals of boat building. Nicholas will struggle mightily to learn how to connect with one of Charlie’s curveballs. The young people will all get to take their own shot at amateur film making.

And we will all be wondering what might have been today, had fate not thrown a monkey wrench into things a quarter-century ago. Is it possible that some things long ago broken might actually get put back together?

And had I read this book back in my adolescence, might it be possible that I’d be an experienced sailor today?

Talk about a realm of possibilities. SUMMER AT FORSAKEN LAKE will make a perfect companion to long, hot days; ice cold root beers; and sand between your toes.

Richie Partington, MLIS
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