Friday, December 28, 2012

Review: Against the Tide by John F. Hanley

Against the Tide by John F. Hanley

It's July 1939 and even though Poland is trapped between Adolph Hitler and Uncle Joe Stalin, everyone hopes war can be avoided. On the island of Jersey, 18 year old Jack Renouf is forbidden from associating with his own Uncle Fred because of his dangerous Communist views and salacious liaison with his Spanish mistress. Caught in his own velvet trap between outrageous Caroline and secretive Rachel, Jack doesn't pay too much attention to international affairs especially during this glorious summer when, despite the darkening horizon, everyone is in holiday mood. In his final days at school, Jack is focused on breaking the one minute barrier for the 100 yards freestyle so that he can get into the British swimming team for the 1940 Helsinki Olympics. Desperate for those last few seconds, he listens to Miko, an enigmatic Jewish refugee who works as a waiter in a local hotel but claims to have trained the Romanian water polo team for the Berlin Olympics. He persuades Jack to try some new techniques, which he promises will bring him success. But everyone else at the swimming club is suspicious of Miko. An arrogant Dutchman on holiday in the island bullies Jack during a water polo match and his carefully constructed sang froid boils away as he retaliates viciously and has to suffer the disciplinary consequences. Suddenly, Jack is in conflict with everyone and his well-ordered life spins away as he is sucked into a conspiracy involving the island's government, smuggled industrial diamonds, and two ruthless mercenaries seeking to retrieve them at any cost.

My Thoughts:
In Against the Tide we are transported to the island of Jersey, between England and France, just before the start of WWII, where we meet 18 year old Jack Renauf. We see Jack play water polo, get into trouble at school, his mess of a love life, his relationship with his family, and the dangers of getting involved with his Communist uncle. There is just such a mix in this book. Sports, politics, relationships, emotions, secrets, action, danger. I am interested to see where this series goes from here. I stopped by John F. Hanley's website and there are some great pictures of various locations in the book. Read this if you like an exciting book with wonderfully drawn characters. An interest in Shakespeare is a plus. :)

My Rating: ****
Steam Factor: !!!
*Notes: Some profanity.

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