Book Review: The Starboard Sea by Amber Dermont

The Starboard Sea by Amber DermontThis book looked at me from the pages of the catalogue of the newly discovered (by me) publishers Corsair (an imprint of Constable and Robinson) from the UK. I liked it straight away and asked for a review copy. I got it, read it, and enjoyed it.

The Starboard Sea: What it is about

From the publishers: “Jason Prosper grew up in the elite world of Manhattan penthouses, Maine summer estates, old boy prep schools and exclusive sailing clubs. A smart, athletic teenager, Jason maintains a healthy, humorous disdain for the trappings of affluence, preferring to spend afternoons sailing with Cal, his best friend and boarding school room mate. When Cal commits suicide during this junior year at Kensington Prep, Jason is devastated by the loss and transfers to Bellingham Academy. There, he meets Aidan, a fellow student with her own troubled past. They embark on a tender, awkward, deeply emotional relationship.

When a major hurricane hits the New England coast, the destruction it causes brings with it another upheaval in Jason’s life, forcing him to make sense of a terrible secret that has been buried by the boys he considers his friends.”

The Starboard Sea: What I thought

I enjoyed reading The Starboard Sea, although it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what I liked about it. While there was a storyline, it meandered for a long time with nothing much really happening. Only later on, there is a  dramatic event that Jason, the protagonist, starts to investigate.

The book was well-written and I happily kept going, learning about Jason, his rich (very rich) friends and their families, the boarding school he was at, the new friends he acquires. It wasn’t the sort of book you have to pick up at any possible moment, but while I was reading, I was pretty happily doing so.

Jason is just like his friends, a spoiled rich kid, with a dysfunctional relationship with his parents and brother – he just doesn’t see them often enough to build up a proper family bond with them. At his new school, he is still grieving the loss of his best friend, and doesn’t try very hard to fit in. His attempt to take up sailing again, his biggest hobby, ends in failure.

I liked the setting, a boarding school, and while I’m not easily dazzled by wealth, I loved to read about how incredibly wealthy these people were, the things they owned, and the way they lived. On the other hand, the emotional story involving Jason and his (girl)friend Aidan was very good too. They are both damaged people and are cautiously attracted to each other.

An atmospherical book, in which sailing and the sea also take a role.

Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)

Number of pages: 310

First published: 2012

I got this book: from Corsair Books for review

Genre: contemporary fiction

Extra: You can read an extract of this book on Amazon Kindle, in the free Dazzling Debuts book from Corsair.


Have you read this book?

What did you think?


About Leeswammes
I'm owner and editor at In my free time, I read and review books on my two blogs, Leeswammes' Blog and De Boekblogger.

15 Responses to Book Review: The Starboard Sea by Amber Dermont

  1. Sailing… The sea!? 🙂 Not for me, then, although I think the other story-lines are quite good!

  2. I’ve seen a lot of buzz for this book, but for some reason it has never appealed. Your comment about the meandering plot has re-enforced that feeling. Don’t think I’ll be rushing out to read this one.

    • Leeswammes says:

      I do think you’d appreciate the book, Jackie. The story meanders a bit but not the plot itself, if you see what I mean – it just takes a while for the story to get going. I do think it’s your kind of book. 🙂

  3. The horrible rich kids put me off a bit but I did think it was a well-written book, just an important part of it made me want to keep putting it down. The more intimate scenes were wonderful.

  4. Sometimes I think that books can be great reads even if you don’t fully enjoy them. For instance, Zazen by Vanessa Veselka was kind of confusing and I’m not sure if I fully understood it. But the actual reading of the book was very enjoyable.

  5. Charlie says:

    Sounds like it has quite a lot going on, you saying nothing much happened for a while is both surprising and not so. That said the number of elements must be a lot, which is always a good thing, and that it has the overall idea of the affect of wealth and family is interesting.

  6. Interesting. I usually prefer books that grab me from the start but occasionally I find one like this that takes a while and then BAM – I end up really enjoying it.

  7. Laurie C says:

    The Starboard Sea made my list of favorite reads in 2012, and made a real impression on me. I think the story had more impact on me because I didn’t have any ideas about what the book was about, except for the New England boarding school setting. Jason’s passion for sailing was enough to carry me through those sections, even though I’m not into sailing!

  8. Pingback: The Starboard Sea- Amber Dermont | Lucybird's Book Blog

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