“If you’re happy all the time, you don’t appreciate anything. You have to have contrast, to have low moments to bring out the high moments in relief.”
“When your head is down, and you’re trying to outrun your past, your upbringing, anyone who’s ever doubted you, I can see how you might round a bend and enter a straightaway and realize, or fail to realize, that no one’s giving chase anymore, that you’re the only one still running”.
They say that when your write your first novel, you should write ‘what you know‘. It is very obvious that Adam White is familiar with his setting and his characters because his writing is so authentic. The narrator in the story is an English teacher who coaches lacrosse and is writing a novel. All of which can be said for the author.
The cadence of this novel was discomforting. As I turned the pages, I came to know these characters better, but although there was no dramatic event for most of the book, you felt one coming. An unsettling feeling that things would come to a head and that someone was going to get hurt.
The book shows the detrimental effect that all-consuming love can have on a family. Ed Thatch wanted it all – not for himself, but for his wife Steph. A lobsterman and a high-school dropout, he always felt she was too good for him. In order to keep her, he felt he had to give her everything she ever wanted, everything he thought she deserved. The only thing was, he never asked her what that was, he assumed…
The novel speaks to the phrase “a big fish in a small pond“. The Thatch family were definitely the big fish in their Maine town. How they got that way is the crux of the book.
“the kind of quiet you were only supposed to hear in outer space”.
The writing was skilled, as can be expected from a man who teaches writing. I was impressed by this debut novel and have great expectations for his writing career. The somewhat ambiguous ending worked well here. “The Midcoast” was an accomplished debut literary novel that I can readily recommend.
This review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from Hogarth Books/Penguin Random House via NetGalley.
Adam White grew up in Damariscotta, Maine, and now lives with his wife and son in Boston, where he teaches writing and coaches lacrosse. He holds an MFA from Columbia University. The Midcoast is his first novel.
Connect with Adam White on Twitter @adamwhite22