Rated 5.00/5 based
on 6 reviews
This book has everything you want. You will find the characters engaging, be pulled into their love lives and have your pulse quickened by the action. You won't be able to put it down for the excitement and devious plot, but will have to put it down for the powerful scenes of pain. Come along for crime and punishment, love and loss with an epic journey in the Pacific. More
Men can possess heroic courage to face challenges, or alternately run like little girls, ashamed at their own inadequacy. This dynamic is richly described in the story of four men in "Freeboard". While each character must cope with their individual stress, from losing a wife to violence to personal moral failure, the four men serendipitously coalesce into a road trip of retreat, ending up far at sea. Though the four men are the main characters, a tapestry of 79 more fill out the true to life context because no story occurs in a vacuum.
Comprehensive research ties the story to actual names, dates and places in 1995, adding authenticity. The scope ranges from a little girl speechless on stage for the first time, to SEAL team insertion with Tomcats screaming overhead.
Our characters' responses to forces in their lives represent the choices we make in ours. The story reads like an exciting adventure, or a moral cautionary tale, giving the reader multiple layers to consider.
Dale is the wild guy we've all met. He's drinking too much, picking up wild women too much and generally is a train wreck waiting to happen. He joins the Navy to get a little structure, but promptly misses shore leave deadline, putting him in lots of trouble.
Cornell has been in prison for ten years, getting in dangerously close scrapes just before release. When he's jumped, he fights for his life, killing two. Knowing this means more hard time, he runs.
Matt is the perfect husband and dad. His Norman Rockwell life is jerked apart when his wife is fatally wounded in the Oklahoma City bombing. Psychologically disoriented with PTSD, he strikes out for anywhere but here.
Don grew up in a nice Mormon family, but never figured out girls. When he finally gets married, he's moving to normalcy when he surprises his wife in the act of adultery. All of the disappointments of his past hit him all at once, running him out of town.
When these guys coincidentally end up near the same motel, they hatch an unlikely plan to stowaway on a barge destined for scuttling. They nearly drown trying to plug the scuttle ports in the frigid ocean as their float trip begins.
They drift along aimlessly, fishing and talking as the enormity of their decision sinks in. The typhoon they ride out brings them as close to mortal resignation as they can get.
One of the men becomes sick and dies while another gets off with the only fishing boat they can flag down. The last two explore a Polynesian island their un-steerable barge smashes into, finding a timeless people who know more about contentment than do the characters.
This oddball floating barge attracts the suspicions of the U.S. Navy, who apply more and more assets to discover what this ship is up to. Tomcats fly over to photograph, a submarine lurks below until they can't stand it and drop in a SEAL team. They confirm the benign nature of the vessel at the same time pirates nearby are stealing a ship and savaging the crew. The presence of an American on-board the ship puts the Navy's elite to work to take the ship back.
Eventually the press discovers this drama at sea and begins a race to scoop the story. What began as a silent retreat is thrown open to the world, changing the feelings of each man. Each one has decided on his response to their original crises, one of which is to continue floating along...alone. That's a story for another book!
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