Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Netgalley Review: Boat Girl by Melanie Neale

I was immediately drawn to Boat Girl: A Memoir of Youth, Love, and Fiberglass by Melanie Neale. This memoir is a series of increasingly connected vignettes, starting when Melanie was very young, which together paint a larger picture of boat life. Melanie and her sister grew up aboard a sailboat, typically summering in Virginia and wintering in the Bahamas. They were homeschooled aboard, diving and meeting all sorts of interesting people, supported by the money her father made writing sailing books and articles. In the summer, sailing families congregated in Cape Town, where she met kids who would become her best friends - the only other people who truly understood her. Her family's story is almost like an expat story, though they were often surrounded by other Americans.

I'm not a boat girl on a caliber with the Neales, but I felt personally connected to this memoir. Melanie and I are the same age, and the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale area was one of her "home ports." As an adult, she attended grad school at FIU and lived on her own sailboat at a marina in the suburb where I lived as a child. Her recollections brought back many of my own memories of boating and oceangoing. I could practically feel the ocean breeze on my face. The "salt life" never leaves you, even if you've never lived full-time on a boat.

Recommended for: boaters, ocean lovers, South Floridians