Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

In Dove, Robin Lee Graham recounts his adventures as he sailed from Los Angeles in the summer of 1965 to begin the five-year voyage that took him around the world. Making use of more than two hundred hours of tape recordings, log entries, letters and newspaper articles, Graham, in thirteen chapters, documents the terror, frustrations, and joys of being a sixteen-year-old sailor encountering the mental and physical challenges of his solitary adventure. The first and last chapters serve as prelude and postscript to the adventure itself. The first chapter begins with his return to San Diego, California, five years after he sailed from the San Pedro Harbor near Los Angeles; the story then flashes back to the months prior to his sailing and the first leg of his journey to Hawaii. The first chapter sets the tone for the rest of the adventure by revealing Graham’s love of the sea and independence and his dislike of the structures of society and education, establishing the basic tension that is developed in the remaining chapters.

Throughout the book, Graham details the difficulty of handling a sailing vessel; he describes stormy seas, windless days, and the potential dangers of both. He also recounts the dangers and the pleasures of encountering other vessels. Each chapter is a combination of reports from the sea and highlights from major stops on the voyage, such as traveling in Africa and working in Australia. Graham reveals the highs and lows he...

(The entire section is 488 words.)