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Before the Wind

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  948 ratings  ·  169 reviews
The Johannssens are a sailing family: adventurous, fanatical, and, for now, a complete and total mess. Ruby, a prodigiously talented skipper, has taken off for Africa. Bernard is god-knows-where at sea. And at thirty-one years old, Josh Johannssen, the middle child, is fixing up an old family boat and trying to figure out where it all went wrong. When Josh's father coaxes ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published February 21st 2017 by Vintage (first published April 19th 2016)
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Average rating 3.92  · 
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Larry H
Mar 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Families split over money, betrayal and abuse, over resentments, infidelities and misunderstandings, over people being jackasses. Most anything can rattle the fault lines. Yet I know of only one family torn asunder by a sailboat race."

Joshua Johannssen has sailing in his blood. It's virtually all he and his siblings have known basically since birth. His grandfather designed sailboats, his father designed and raced them, and the two passed down this fever to Josh, his older brother Bernard, and
I love books about dysfunctional families and while I enjoyed that aspect of the book, the boating references dominated the story. I love the water but mostly from the beach or balcony or walking along the beach....not from inside a boat. After owning two boats (my husband's idea, not mine), I can say with certainty that I dislike boating. So why did I read this book? I read it based on a recommendation and had hoped the quirky dysfunctional bits and the humor would be enough to overshadow the ...more
I'm throwing in the towel. Too expletive heavy and sailing technical for my tastes. It seems much better suited to a manly man entrenched audience and/or obsessively passionate sailors. The writing, in general, seems quite good. Just not a good fit for me.
Angie Boyter
Oct 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: edelweiss
Four generations of the Johannssen family have built and raced sailboats around Puget Sound. Sailing is the adhesive that unites the Johannssens, and it is a sailboat race that destroyed them. Now the family comes together for the first time in twelve years for the Swiftsure race. Sailing a classic Johannssen-designed-and-built Joho cruiser, they hope to salvage the futures of both their company and their family. Before the Wind is the story of a family and an obsession, crafted with the same ...more
Blaine DeSantis
Such mixed feelings about this book. For me, it did not live up to Lynch's past efforts and that was a major disappointment. Not sure if it was his writing style or rather that this book really appears to be written to boating/sailing aficionados instead of the general readership. I got totally lost with all the boating phraseology and to me the emphasis on the boating took away from a pretty good story - not a great story. A dysfunctional family that may or may not have received healing by the ...more
aPriL does feral sometimes
Lots and lots of boat and sailing terminology in Before the Wind which for me was dull. (Once longtime ago and far away, my husband and I owned a boat for three years. I discovered boating really sucks by the end of the second year.)

There is a story too, about a family - a father, a boating enthusiast, who wants his three kids to love boating too, and I liked it as far as I got because there was a lot of humor and irony. However, there also are lots and lots of racing boats, boating accidents,
Mr. Gottshalk
Feb 22, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I abandoned this book after a little over 100 pages. Just couldn't get in to it for many reasons.
Sarah at Sarah's Bookshelves
Behind the Wind is 100% up my alley and I have no idea why Id never heard of it until Catherine at Gilmore Guide shoved it into my hands recently. It plops the dysfunctional family element of Ann Patchetts Commonwealth into a sailing environment with brilliant results.

"For years, sailing bound us. We were racers, builders and cruisers. It was our family business, our sport, our drug of choice. Yet eventually, sailing blew us apart, too."

Within the first five pages, Lynch delves into the psyche
Jun 07, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jim Lynch is known for novels that are fertile explorations of microcosms of humanity that blossom into reflections of the complex whole. In Before the Wind, Lynch applies this technique to a story about the world of sailing, and an examination of a family intimately involved with the sailing business, the Johannssens.

Josh Johannssen, 31, going back and forth in time in alternating chapters, narrates what happened the last time his family experienced any harmony, before, as he puts it, his
Oct 27, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 10totry_2019
Do you ever read a book and go, this is just too much... something. This book was too much.

Too much sailing jargon.
Too many scattered plot lines all over the place (almost every character that has a name and speaks has their own little mini-plot).
Too many quirky characters (ALL of them were excentric weirdos).

I was skeptical about this book when it was selected for my book club, but I've often found myself pleasantly surprised by how much I've enjoyed a book that I previously thought I wouldn't
Josh's family is a sailing family. His father and grandfather designed and built a line of sailboats that was quite popular in it's time. They are now being replaced by faster, sleeker boats built out of more high tech materials. When they were little, Josh's younger sister Ruby had a magical touch with the wind and sails and was almost an Olympic contender. His older brother Bernard was the daredevil and would try anything when it came to sailing (and other things). Josh was often eclipsed by ...more
Jul 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed the book! It helped tremendously that I've sailed and even raced sailboats in a past life. It would almost take a sailor to enjoy this book I think, because of the specific lingo used. But note that I said 'almost'; the story line and the characters would hold the interest of just about anyone. It also helped me to have sailed in some of the same waters mentioned, the San Juan and Gulf Islands, etc. , and I've been a spectator of the Swiftsure from a hillside west of ...more
May 14, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, pacific-nw
Great cast of characters and a good sense of place but the plot just didn't measure up. I expected a novel as wonderful as Border Songs but this wasn't it. It's definitely worth reading, especially if you've any interest in sailing, but otherwise adjust your expectations. Josh's dating reports are a hoot and provide needed humor.
Kathleen Minde
My dad has been recommending this book to me for two years now. He finally bought it and threw it at me last visit. My husband and I purchased a sailboat years ago and fell in love so he was positive I would like Before The Wind. I wasn't so sure but I started reading anyway. Page 2, I was hooked.

This book, other than recounting the life of a dysfunctional sailing family, captures all the weirdness, close calls, zealotry, frustration, love and lunacy that is sailing. Sailing can either be a
Mar 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book made me laugh, smile, smirk, cry, and relate so hard. Lynch successfully captures and writes an endearing tribute to the sailing community of Puget Sound, so seamlessly evoking the insanity and the devotion, the fanaticism, the relationships and the characters who participate in this wildly wonderful sport and tradition. He's well researched in the language and technicalities of sailboat life and hits the nail on the head so many times describing sailing's superb idiosyncrasies. The ...more
Catherine at The Gilmore Guide to Books
At the most basic level Jim Lynchs new novel Before the Wind is the story of the Johannssensa sailing family in Seattle, Washington. Or as Josh Johannssens younger sister Ruby liked to claim And theres a reason were so good with boats: we have a higher salt content in our blood! A fact which his long suffering older brother Bernard would point out was based on one misleading blood test that showed Grumps had high sodium levels. His father and grandfather build and race boats and his mathematics ...more
Feb 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Do you like to sail? I dont mean lying in the sun on a sailboat while someone else steers. I mean rigging the boat, launching it, manning the sails. If so, you will thrill to Jim Lynchs new novel, which is set in the world of boats driven by the wind. If not, prepare to be immersed as well as entertained.

Narrated by Josh, the adult middle child of the famous, boat-building Johanssens of Puget Sound, the central family story is surrounded by other quirky, sailing-related stories, such as Einstein
Thanks to Goodreads and the publisher for a free copy of Before the Wind!

I know basically nothing about sailing -- I should probably start with that. So, when I picked up Before the Wind, I wasn't sure what I was going to think, or how much I was going to understand. I needn't have worred.

Before the Wind immerses you in the world of sailboats: racing them, repairing them, and the [sometimes oddball] people who own them. The writing is vivid without getting bogged down in description. But my
In the hands of a more capable writer this could have been a much more interesting story.

I had two really big issues with this:

1.) The plot was dull and predictable. As a lifelong Seattle resident it was nice to hear names and places that were familiar, but that was where the fun ends. The idea of this families dramas spanning the first 2/3 of the book only to end in the "great race" felt too "movie-of-the-week" for me. There was never a moment where I settled into the current (see what I did
Laugh out loud moments pepper this novel which pulls back the curtain on an American family. The Johanssons look like they have everything -- successful dad and granddad doing what they love, brilliant mom, 3 great kids. They all apparently live for sailing. Ten-plus years later, middle kid Josh tries to figure out what went wrong. Lynch has clearly hung out with delusional boaters (is there any other kind?) and dysfunctional families because with all myriad characters in Before the Wind, not a ...more
Kenneth Iltz
May 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-books
I love this book. It is a fictional account of a dysfunctional sailing family that lives in the Seattle area. The grandfather and father of Josh, the narrator, built sailboats. Josh has an older brother and a younger sister and they are all avid sailors and misfits.

Joshs sardonic commentary on the mystique of sailing will amuse even readers who cant tell a jib from a spinnaker. The book builds up to a family reunion where everyone participates in a major sailboat race on a sailboat that the
Ian Allan
I thought I was in the target demographic for this book. I like the Seattle area, and our family used to go on boat trips in Puget Sound each summer. We have taken boats out of the Shilsole marina, which is mentioned in this book. This is my home turf.

But book never got off the ground for me. I never got excited about reading the next chapter.

If it hadn't had the local flavor and been written by a local author, I would have quit on it.

The book started of super slow and kind of confusing. I think if your super into boats and sailig you would enjoy this book more but I kinda skipped over some of the boaty parts. Near the beginning I didn't think I would finish the book but I have to really not are for a book to stop reading it. As the book progressed and the reader gets to know the characters more, I started enjoying this book. I do think most of the first half of the book could have been taken out.
Jul 05, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Easily the most boring book I have read in a long time.
The family is not interesting, there is zero story or plot to the book.
This book is only recommended if you really really love to sale, talk about sailing, spend most of your time around boats, or wishing you were around boats. Otherwise forget it.
Jesse Warner
Apr 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book and I'm on my way to buy a sailboat. Ok, so the sailboat part isn't true, but learning how to sail moved up on my to-do list. Jim Lynch is an extremely talented writer and he delivered a great story here.
B Ware
Jun 11, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to like this, didn't. It took the first half of the book and there was still not resemblance of a plot. Full of sailing jargon and anticdotes about the family and friends but too slow to get to the real story i was looking for.
Tad Deshler
Oct 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't know much about sailing, so it was fun to be immersed in the complicated arcana of this world. The characters were richly drawn such that even when the plot lagged, the story was still compelling.
May 27, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Reading this was like watching grass grow. So tedious.....abandoned about 25% of the way through. Please....just tell the story!
Jul 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved it! But then again I was a boater in the Puget Sound area for years and enjoyed going through the experiences.
Nov 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Classic Jim Lynch & a joy to read for me as a sailing fan!
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Jim Lynch is the author of the novels The Highest Tide, Border Songs and Truth Like the Sun, all of which were performed on stage and won prizes, including an Indies Choice Honor Book Award, a Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award and a Dashiell Hammett Prize finalist. His next novel, Before the Wind, will be released in April 2016. As a newspaper reporter, Lynch has won national awards, including

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