Jamie Kurtzs life has fallen apart. After graduating top of his class from a prestigious university, hes gotten a rotten job, his girlfriend has left him for a frat boy, and his rich father has just cut off his rent money. Homeless and jobless, Jamie goes to the coastal town of Kestrel Cove in search of a new life, where he finds an unusual fishing community and manages to secure a job on a lobster boat. What he doesnt know is that the community of Kestrel Cove is entirely convinced that a Russian satellitea leftover from the Cold Warrecords surveillance photos of the town while it passes over every evening.
As Jamie begins to explore his new community, he finds surprises around every corner: an ill-tempered wharf master, a mysterious millionaire who lives on a nearby mountain, an auto mechanic who never gets any work done, and a fight-crazy, motorbike-riding deck hand, to name a few. Jamie begins to find his place among these strange individuals and begins to gain a deeper appreciation of their way of life as he progresses on his own journey of starting fresh.
The narrative contains quite a few instances that seem like mere male wish-fulfillment: winning a fight in the lobstermens meeting, dating the prettiest girl in town, winning the respect of some of the wharfs gruffest men. But the fact that Jamie is reconciling his former identity as a well-educated pushover with his new role as a member of a town with an entirely different social structure makes certain that his development remains three-dimensional. Some of the characters are little more than tropes on legs, but others show an unexpected amount of depth. One particularly enjoyable element is Jamies undying devotion to the study of the Civil War, which he relates back to many of his seemingly unrelated experiences in Kestrel Cove.
The narrative takes a few unexpected turns, including a few point of view changes, that keep the story fresh and interesting. The subject matter is, at first, presented as the amusing stuff of summer beach reads, but the story goes through a few darker turns as it progresses. At 475 pages, the book sometimes seems as though it is stretching on longer than it should, but Bridgford creates a fitting ending for this wild and wayward narrative. Altogether, Bridgford has created a diverting and entertaining story in Hauling Through.
Maine Authors Publishing