Kevin Major Kirkus Reviews - Essay

Kirkus Reviews

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Set in Newfoundland like last year's Hold Fast, this weaker novel [Far From Shore] also deals with a basically likable but undisciplined kid in trouble. In a family where his unemployed father has become a surly drunk and his high-achieving sister, bound for University, is forever "at" her Dad—till he hauls off and hits her one on a disastrous Christmas—Chris flunks ninth grade, starts hanging out with a no-good older crowd, and gets in trouble with police over an episode of gang vandalism he's too drunk to remember…. By the end of the story Dad has returned, Chris (who had considered dropping out) is back in school, and the family is back together, thanks partly to the intercession of the camp head who is also their local minister. This is told mostly from Chris' viewpoint but Major also switches among the other principals' thoughts—most of which could be almost entirely skipped because they are such predictable projections of the concerned minister, the long-suffering mother, the self-excusing father, or whatever. Despite his bad ways, other characters comment on Chris' good nature, and this, along with all his crossroads choices (will he be a dope and smoke the second joint? lunge at the girl? take the canoe out on the rough lake?), may well strike a sympathetic chord in young readers too. Another plus is the true sense of teenage life on a depressed island, where there's little to do but drink and make out. But [Far From Shore] … is a comedown from the young author's Hold Fast, not the advance one might have hoped for. (pp. 1467-68)

A review of "Far from Shore," in Kirkus Reviews (copyright © 1981 The Kirkus Service, Inc.), Vol. XLIX, No. 23, December 1. 1981, pp. 1467-68.