Wavehouse by Alice Kaltman
Royal House Publishing
June 1, 2018
Author bio: The daughter of a Merchant Marine and a Rockaway beach babe, Alice Kaltman’s life has always been ocean-centric. Now when she’s not in the water she writes about surfers, mermaids, and other odd balls. In addition to Wavehouse, Alice is the author of the short fiction collection Staggerwing and the middle grade fantasy, The Tantalizing Tale of Grace Minnaugh, due out in Spring of 2020. Alice’s work can also be read in numerous journals, magazines and fiction anthologies. She splits her time between Brooklyn and Montauk, New York where she swims, surfs, and writes; weather and waves permitting.
Facebook: Alice Kaltman/Author
Trigger warnings: n/a
“I watched him until he disappeared behind the next bend in the coastline. It was as if he had emerged from somewhere in the mid-Atlantic and then just as quickly disappeared; like he was a selkie, or a merman, or some other type of exotic sea creature. Or maybe he was just a loner—like me.”
Sixteen-year-old Anna Dugan is a natural surfer; she feels at home in the waves, but her crippling shyness and aversion to surf culture keeps her from pursuing the sport competitively. She spends most of her time in the ocean, drawing, working at her mom’s shop, and with her best friend Myra. With a Youtube video of Anna surfing having gone viral, her mom falling for yet another man, and the possibility of Myra moving to Paris, Anna’s summer does not look promising. But when Anna meets a new-to-town boy whose surfing skills rival her own, things start to look up. Not everything is how it seems, though, which forces Anna to look inward for answers.
Kaltman is able to clearly and engagingly convey the intricacies of surfing, from how the surfer’s body must move the way it feels and looks to travel swiftly through walls of water. Her imagery of the ocean and the sport in action is so crisp that even readers with next-to-no-knowledge of surfing, like myself, will momentarily feel as though they have caressed the inside of a wave, waxed a board, and waited patiently for the perfect “swell.”
The love story is natural, mostly because it feels like a real teen romance. Anna’s love interest does not take over the narrative, and the development of their relationship is well paced; it flows from chapter to chapter with twists that keep their journey compelling. Furthermore, although this relationship does help Anna come out of her shell, it’s evident that it simply gives her a push in the right direction. Anna does most of the grunt work in her own self-improvement, making her an empowering character for young readers who might want to do the same.
Wavehouse is ideal for readers who wish to feel as if they were riding waves; who know the struggles of being innately shy; who fancy some endearing yet obstacle-ridden young love; and who enjoy a complicated, witty mother-daughter relationship.
PRR Writer- Alessandra De Zubeldia
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