I’m writing this post from a Florida poolside, but don’t get too excited: it’s not quite 70 degrees, and the only person who has been here as I’ve worked was an 80 year old man.

I’m on the last part of my Florida swing. After stops in St. Pete Beach, Tampa and Gainesville, I’ve come across state to spend a few days with my grandparents in Sebastian, a quiet town, made even quieter in their over 55 community. These trips are a tradition that involve me reading and napping quite a bit. In anticipation, I brought five books down with me, two that I bought from Target.

The first book, The Night Circusby Erin Morgenstern, was a bust that’s already been donated to their senior community library. The second, The Starboard Seaby Amber Dermont, is the second, and I stuck with it, even though I found it to be a disappointing novel.

The Starboard Sea is about Jason Prosper, who left his tony boarding school after his roommate and sailing partner, Cal, hung himself. He’s ended up at Bellingham Academy, which is the prep school of last resort where kids go after getting kicked out of other rich kid schools. His father secured him a spot by paying for a new dorm. There, he’s a misfit on an island of already misfit toys, and his senior year rolls out from there.

As I read, I kept getting frustrated with the novel. I’ve read about these types of characters a zillion times before: the stoner, the slut, the weird arty girl. They’re not interesting, and neither is Jason. I just didn’t care to know the answer to the mysteries that Dermont tried to build up through the course of the book.

This is a crowded genre, and anything in this category written now is going to be compared to The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, which dealt with many of the same issues (suicide, mental illness, sex, homosexuality) in the same time period (late 80s/early 90s) but beautifully. I cared about those characters. I worried about them after I finished the book. I don’t care about these snots and what happens to them after they graduate.

So BAH. Zero for two. My fault for looking for reading material from Target and thinking best seller automatically equals good book.

My next book is one from an author I’ve meant to read for a long time – a Florida author at that. Maybe I’ll have better luck this time.

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Jen Miller

Jen Miller

Jen A. Miller is a an author and freelance writer. Her memoir, Running a Love Story, was a Philadelphia Inquirer best book of the year. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, SELF, Buzzfeed and the Guardian, among others.

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