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The Keeper's Son by Homer Hickam
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The Keeper's Son

by Homer Hickam

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As far as a fast and easy, perhaps on the shores of the Outer Banks, type of read, this is fairly quick to get into and finish. Also good for a relatively untold or unknown fact that German U-Boats sunk many ships off the U.S.coast during the second World War; from Maine to the Gulf of Mexico. The story revolved around a tiny fictional island called Killakeet during the first years of World War II. Some characters are given depth, others are as central casting as they can come. Perhaps the most intriguing character is the war-weary German U-Boat commander, Krebs. It was interesting to see how a character used to military protocol and a top fighter at sea changed through the book. Josh, the "lead" role is given some of the density as well, losing his brother in the first chapter of the book at a young age, but by the end of the book, he is just your pretty standard action hero. I am not saying that is bad, it was just kind of a surprise that the book more or less turned into this after a pretty heavy attempt at character expositions. Dosie, the female lead, same thing, although she has a quite touching, poignant moment at the end. Josh? He gets action hero sequel treatment in two follow-up books by the author. Overall, enjoyable enough, and decent book club light fodder. ( )
  noblechicken | Aug 6, 2013 |
Homer Hickam is a great memorist as he titles himself. His semi-autobiographical novel, Rocket Boys, is one of my treasured reads. The follow-ups to that were also works I found to be more than worthwhile. Wanting to write in a new genre, that of fiction, we turn to his account of a time that he is an expert on. That of the fighting that took place along the outer banks right when the US joined WWII.

Here I think we have not seen the full potential that we found in his earlier works. Perhaps it is the pacing, perhaps it is trying to apply a formula to the writing. Certainly the subject of the submarine attacks on american shipping are a subject that lend themselves to an historical novel. That everyone involved amongst the US are characters, virtually all eccentric, takes away from some of the details of the time period. Certainly our heroine typifies a modern woman in deed and attitude which also takes away from creating the nuance of the late thirties and early forties. These are things that Mr. Hickam's writing of the era of his teenage years do so well. Here I find it hard to believe in the people he has embody his story.

To some extent even our villains are not believable. Was there such a group of U-Boat men that waged war on innocents? Hard to say or know in this novel.

Perhaps with less quirky supporting characters, or even the one trait that drives the main character taken out of the story might have made this a much better and more believable book. ( )
1 vote DWWilkin | Feb 20, 2010 |
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Epigraph
"Guess now who holds thee?"--
"Death," I said. But there
The silver answer rang--
"Not Death, but Love."

--Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Sonnets from the Portuguese
Dedication
To John Gaskill an Rany Jennette, sons of the keepers, guardians of the light
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The old wicker rocker creaked as Josh pushed back and forth in it, back and forth, back and forth, his bare feet slapping against the boards of the pizer with each rock.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312999496, Mass Market Paperback)

Haunted by inner demons, Josh Thurlow returns home to Killakeet Island to command a small Coast Guard patrol boat manned by a colorful crew of locals. Dominating the glorious beauty of the little island is the majestic Killakeet Lighthouse, kept for generations by the Thurlow family. Its presence is a continuous reminder to Josh of the mysterious loss of his baby brother at sea seventeen years before, a tragedy for which he was blamed. But Josh is convinced that his brother might still be alive and begins searching for him even after German U-boats arrive and soak the beaches with blood.

Josh's quest puts him in the path of Otto Krebs-the most audacious of the U-boat commanders and a deadly enemy who may also hold the answers Josh is seeking. But when he meets Dosie Crossan, a young woman fighting her own war against the invaders, Josh must decide whether to risk all on a love that could destroy him or redeem him...

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:25:27 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

"In 1941, Killakeet Island of the wind-swept Outer Banks of North Carolina is home to a tiny, peaceful population of fisherman, clam stompers, oyster rakers, and a few lonely sailors of the Coast Guard. Dominating the glorious, raw beauty of the little island is the majestic Killakeet Lighthouse, which for generations has been the responsibility of one family, the Thurlows." "However, Josh Thurlow, the Keeper's son, has forsworn his heritage to become the commander of the Maudie Jane, a small Coast Guard patrol boat operating off Killakeet. Josh is still tortured by guilt, seventeen years after losing his baby brother at sea. Then his life is complicated by the arrival of the beautiful Dosie Crossan, who has journeyed to lonely Killakeet to escape the outside world and perhaps find a purpose in life. While Josh's heart is stirred by the often-vexing Dosie, he continues his search for his brother, even after a wolf pack of German U-boats arrives to soak the island's beaches with blood and oil." "One of the U-boats is captained by Otto Krebs, a famed and ruthless undersea warrior. Krebs, a man also scarred by lost love, comes to Killakeet, however, with more than torpedoes and plans for war: He may have the answer to the mystery that haunts Josh Thurlow."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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